Food truck operators, restaurant owners cook up debate over Nederland ordinance

Published 6:58 pm Monday, October 24, 2022

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NEDERLAND — The Nederland Planning and Zoning Commission is meeting next month to make a recommendation on amending the city’s existing food truck ordinance.

Members of that board, or members of the Nederland City Council, have not indicated publicly where they stand on the issue, which was passionately discussed Monday at City Hall.

Should the planning and zoning board recommend an ordinance change, it would likely come up for a final vote in front of the city council in December.

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At the heart of local discussion is a proposed modification of an ordinance that would eliminate the “special occasion” clause food truck operators must abide by to function in Nederland.

As of now, food truck operators must operate on a private business’ property through invitation by that business. It must be in association with a temporary promotion or advertisement put on by the business.

They can operate no more than 12 times a year, once a month and for three days straight.

Nederland resident Keith Bass is suggesting removing the provision for the “special occasion” and on Monday also suggested opening up the opportunity restrictions.

“Some of us don’t have that overheard income to start a brick and mortar to start with, so we go to a food truck or trailer and go that route,” he said.

“I don’t see that as a determinant to a brick and mortar.”

Kenny Mings, owner of Touch of Cajun Café on Boston Avenue, said restaurant operators in Nederland are struggling. He said allowing food trucks more unfiltered access to set up allows them to “take the money and run.”

“There has to be some kind of rules and regulation,” Mings said.

Remi Bryan, owner of La Suprema Mexican Restaurant on FM 365, said the tax burden that brick and mortar buildings endure is way more than a food truck.

“We employ people. We pay taxes. We have been here more than 50 years,” she said. “It’s a little disheartening to have people just show up and open up a food truck. I am just unsure for how this is going to work out in a small town.”

Joseph Taylor, a Nederland resident, said he is going through the process of becoming food truck certified, adding existing regulations address food safety and proximately concerns.

He feels with the right guidance, more food trucks could work well in Nederland.

Al Judice IV, owner of Judice’s 1927 on Nederland Avenue, said he was against an expanded food truck ordinance because of the struggling industry and potential impact on tax revenue.

“If you allow that all the time, you will see big tax revenue for the city go down because y’all’s restaurants will close,” Judice said. “That is a guarantee. They will close.”

Boss Burger owner Joe Oates stressed that food truck operators pay a fair share of their taxes.

“We provide a service to the community,” he said. “And we can provide something a little different once in a while.”

Curtis Stratton, owner of Ace Glass & Mirror, said he was for the change to the ordinance and welcomes the opportunity to team with food trucks.

“A lot of times food trucks give you something the brick and mortar restaurants don’t offer,” he said. “They have their own special and unique food that you are not going to get at someone’s restaurant.”

No votes or action were taken Monday by Nederland officials.