New Regulations 'Good for the City, Good for Food Trucks,' Says Riffs' Lofback

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As many of you have already heard, Metro — after weeks of deferrals in Traffic and Parking Commission hearings — has laid out a framework for food truck regulation, in a pilot program that rolls out, so to speak, next week.

Joey Garrison's got the rundown over at The City Paper, but here are the basics: Downtown will be divided into nine vendor zones where food trucks will be allowed; outside downtown, food trucks will be required to keep a set distance from driveways and from brick-and-mortar restaurants; trucks will be required to buy a permit and be inspected regularly; food trucks serving on private property will be required to have documentation showing they have been invited. The details, including how much these permits will cost, are yet to be worked out.

This might sound like a lot of red tape and bureaucracy for mobile eateries to navigate, but Nashville Food Truck Association president (and Riffs Fine Street Food chef/operator) B.J. Lofback tells Bites this is not a "crackdown," as some people have characterized it to him.

"This is a positive thing," he says. "Metro has been working with us every step of the way to bring this about."

Lofback adds that while there have been plenty of disagreements, "cooler heads prevailed," and that all interested parties, including the Tennessee Hospitality Association, came to the table to hammer out a system that would be as good for everyone involved as possible.

"I honestly think this program is going to be worthy of being an example to the nation," Lofback says.

Will this ease tensions between the fleet and the fixed, ameliorate concerns about food safety and calm skepticism among those who claim food trucks take but don't give back? Time will tell: The pilot program is set to run for three months, with changes and adjustments to be made as needed.

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