Downtown Buena Vista has experienced obvious growth especially along East Main. Not only can citizens find new businesses within the historical buildings lining Main Street, but as well there have been various new temporary vendors and food trucks to be found alongside the brick and mortars.
While many people are excited to find fresh and creative eateries to compliment the already successful restaurants offered, there has been much discussion over the future of this style of business.
The vibrancy and cultural experiences that can be enjoyed on Main Street are appealing aspects for any business to prosper during the tourist seasons and year-round for locals to appreciate.
Many business owners have been thrilled with the addition of 18 temporary vendor permitted food truck operations and the options these vendors have given to our small, mountain town’s thriving reputation.
Eddie Sandoval, owner and operator of the Asian Palate, and likewise owner and operator of the House Rock Kitchen, Turtle Cook, are both very satisfied and supportive of the economic growth from the newly established food truck population.
“As a business owner and a consumer, I fully support the growth of any small business food establishment in this town. Variety is healthy and exciting for everyone. When we support each other and the business endeavors that we believe in, it creates a path for others to succeed,” said Sandoval.
Both owners, having been a part of the rapid growth in the past few years, can only see a positive direction with these additions.
“The food trucks that have opened this year seem like they are increasing the vitality of our Main Street,” Cook said. “I think these food trucks have pretty high standards for themselves and that is encouraging for a brick and mortar place to see because the more successful amenities we have on Main Street the more it is going to increase the market for tourist traffic.”
Some of the new types of food offered next to the existing brick and mortars have created positive and symbiotic relationships for the businesses involved, he said.
The various styles of original menus that can now be found include The Buena Viking and its signature burgers and melts, The Bearded Lady fueled by its farm-to-table designed menu showcasing the Crowded Acre Farm, and The Olive a Mediterranean option opening soon that will feature gyros, falafels and salads. These offerings are located within just two blocks on East Main and are among various other food trucks around town that specialize in everything from breakfast to barbeque.
“The environment has been very welcoming. Obviously, no one wants Main Street to become a place where there are too many options and not enough people, but I feel like everyone is pretty maxed out in the summer months, and the vitality that multiple options of food brings to the table is only making BV Main Street more of a family-friendly destination,” said Anna Sitton, co-owner of The Buena Viking.
Similarly, across the street the co-owner of The Olive Tana Deklevar hopes brick and mortar business owners can see the value that food trucks have for the economy in town.
“While there are lines out the door in restaurants, food trucks are providing an affordable outdoor or on-the-go dining experience. The spaces that I’ve seen food trucks filling on E Main Street are appealing to the eye while creating more activity in otherwise empty lots.”
While most of these food truck owners are exceedingly happy with their business success throughout this summer, they are unable to remain open year round because of city ordinances in place.
The permitting and code approval for the food industry requires an additional permitting and fee from town for these temporary vendors and currently only allows this type of commerce a permit up to 180 days, with no allowance of renewal in the same location concurrently.
Jen Welch of the Bearded Lady, describes the hurdles temporary food vendors’ face that is different than ordinary restaurants.
“Currently, town doesn’t allow year-round operation of food trucks. This is something we would like to see changed in the code. Most consumers have commented that they would love to support us year- round if we were able to operate outside of the 180 days currently allowed,” she said.
“Brick and mortar and food trucks are so different in their capacity and offerings and we serve to complement each other as well as provide our tourists and locals with a wider variety of food offerings. I especially appreciate the community of businesses directly surrounding us. There is a great effort to work together to bring more people to Main Street and to increase our collective offerings to consumers.”
Katy Welter, owner of Watershed BV is a member of a local community group called the Temporary Vendor Task Force that has recently formed to assist town in matters regarding this increasingly popular style of business.
The task force is hoping to work together with the Economic Vitality Advisory Board to ease the hurdles faced when starting a new business and ultimately tear down the 180-day limit so that these businesses will only have to apply for yearly permits just like the other restaurants.
“Small businesses are really important for BV and a lot of businesses do start with temporary vending, and so we want to make sure people who live here in our community can start their businesses without too many unnecessary hurdles and with a much more clarified code,” she said.
“We are trying to figure out what is best for the town and I think we can all do that together as a community without regulations that make it more difficult.”
After breaching the subject further in multiple agenda meetings, EVAB has concluded that the matter needs to be brought back to public hearings for additional scrutiny and comment to ensure every person in town that has an opinion has the opportunity to speak.
Jay Boyd, chairman of EVAB, says that the main importance of going back to discussion with this matter is really directed toward public health and safety. Because EVAB is a newly organized board of volunteers, they want to bring all facets of the code and opinions of citizens to the board of trustees before amendments are made.
“There were some people that were concerned because food truck owners do not have the same capital investments as brick and mortar businesses and so it is just a matter of making sure that everyone has the opportunity to make a comment, and that we did our due-diligence prior to making any decisions,” said Boyd.
At this time, there has been no date set for a public hearing on this matter.