Food trucks, city look to clarify rules


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A public opinion meeting Wednesday will get the public’s input on food truck regulations in the Port City.

Owners hope to see some changes come from the meeting to help their business, but it might cause tension between them and restaurant owners.

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Food trucks are one of the biggest fads in cooking, including here in Wilmington. But truck owners are looking for a little clarity in local regulations.

In Wilmington they have to apply for a permit that lets them set up in a single location for one week or two weekends in a row, then wait 45 days to apply for another.

“Or you can be somewhere for an hour to two hours depending on who you’re talking to and then move on,” said Ed Coulbourn, owner of Poor Piggy’s. “So there really is no set rules that govern food trucks operating in the City of Wilmington.”

Truck owners say brick-and-mortar restaurant owners have concerns about how the mobile eateries impact their business.

John Hinnant with Wilmington Downtown Inc. says the city needs to create a balance.

“I know that the typical patron of a food truck tends to be a foodie, and downtown has a strong foodie scene with great restaurants and dining options in downtown,” he said. “We’ve done a survey and found that food trucks would add to the vibrancy of downtown.”

One former truck owner says he doesn’t think they’re taking customers away from restaurants in the area.

“I think if you set up adjacent to a restaurant and you’re too close to them, I get that, but if it’s 1:00 in the morning and you’ve got maybe two restaurants, maybe two or three that are serving food what’s the little competition? So what?” said Carter McKaughan, who used to own the Cheesey Banker.

Coulbourn said, “You really just have to get past all of that and work together so that everybody can build the restaurant community scene in Wilmington better and stronger.”

Another food truck owner, James Smith of Patty Wagon, suggests Wilmington adopt a code like Raleigh has. It would allow food trucks to set up but stay a certain distance from open restaurants.

The input meeting is Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Wilmington City Council chambers.