Star Review Editorial Board
The food truck industry has proven itself as a culinary testing ground for countless chefs around the world, including Lincoln.
In recent years, Muchachos and Mary Ellen’s – among others – established their brands and built customer loyalty with food trucks before opening equally popular brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Food trucks embody an entrepreneurial spirit that should never be discouraged, while creating another way to keep the economy going. Most importantly they make great food which is in demand.
We’ve always supported anything Lincoln decision makers can do to ease restrictions and create more culinary opportunities for them to succeed.
That said, we endorse Lincoln City Council’s decision last week to launch a pilot program that will allow food trucks to spend up to three hours in residential neighborhoods, making it much easier to provide food for private gatherings. – events like graduation parties and block parties – than the current 15-minute restriction.
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The pilot program expires in November, but data generated over the next six months will determine whether the program should be implemented on a permanent basis.
It’s a reasonable approach to moving into residential areas, and Journal Star reporter Margaret Reist wrote last week that the city’s director of urban development, Dan Marvin, said the proposal was part of a long-term plan to expand the use of food trucks.
Additionally, the city is considering designating certain downtown areas to allow food trucks in the most congested areas. These areas include near the State Office Building, near 14th and Q streets, and under the Rosa Parks Way overpass.
Before the pandemic caused a shutdown, the city council was ready to launch a pilot program that would have allowed food trucks to park on downtown Lincoln streets hooded meters away to target some major shopping centers. Downtown jobs located at least 100 feet from a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The shutdown canceled the program before it even launched, but we urge the city to consider trying it again this summer. That’s good for food truck owners and even better for a downtown that’s getting back to business after two tough years.
The food trucks have been popular both with the lunchtime crowd and in the early hours of the morning after the bars and nightclubs have closed.
Food truck owners were restricted by regulations that prohibited them from parking more than 15 minutes in a residential area, while requiring them to partner with other businesses to park on their lots.
These pilot programs will give them more opportunities to share their products with Lincoln, building brands and reputations that may well be the first step to planting more permanent roots in a thriving restaurant community.