‘You can’t do this to me’: Food truck owner feels slighted after turned away at Azalea Fest concerts

A small business in Wilmington missed out on the Azalea Festival crowds but decided to try and make the best out of a bad situation.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A small business in Wilmington missed out on the Azalea Festival crowds but decided to try and make the best out of a bad situation.

Poor Piggy’s BBQ Owner Harley Bruce says he was set to be a vendor at the concerts at Live Oak Bank Pavillion throughout the Azalea Festival, saying verbal agreements were made over the phone leading up to the events.

On Monday before the festival began, he says he was contacted by the food and beverage company to confirm arrival times. On Wednesday, the day of the first event, he says he was called and told not to come because of limited space at the venue, but on Thursday they would be able to fit him in. Bruce says he wasn’t too worried at first, saying he was able to move the food prepared for Wednesday over to Thursday.

Then, on Thursday, just about an hour before he was set to arrive, he says he was called and told not to come again. That’s when he got frustrated.

“I’m just like, hey man my truck’s full of food. I’m ready for the Gilbert concert. That’s a big show,” Bruce said. “I’m going to come down there, we’ll fit me in, we’ll fit me in. It’s a small truck, we can get me in. So I get down there to the gates and he comes walking out and he’s just like, nah man, we don’t have room.”

A spokesperson for the City of Wilmington says Bruce was scheduled to serve on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, but showed up on Thursday without being scheduled. They said Bruce was never told he could not serve on his scheduled days.

“It’s already come out that I wasn’t supposed to be there Thursday, but we don’t have written contracts it’s phone calls,” Bruce said. “Hey man, I’ll see you Thursday. Okay, I’ll see you Thursday. I’ll need you from this date to this date. Okay, I’ll be there.”

The city says Bruce then tried to set up outside the venue after he was turned away on Thursday, which is not allowed because of city ordinances.

“The City of Wilmington supports our thriving food industry and even adjusted the ordinances pertaining to Mobile Food Units in the new LDC to be more accommodating to small businesses owners. However, we have ordinances in place for the safety and well-being of our city,” they shared in a statement.

However, Bruce says he was told to set up outside the event by the food and beverage company, but he knew the rules against it so he did not. Instead, he sat outside in his truck feeling frustrated by the situation.

When Bruce asked about Friday and Saturday, he says his contact with the company could not guarantee they would have room for him on those days either. So, he decided not to come and opened the truck outside his kitchen on Saturday instead. He donated much of the food he’d prepared to Vigilant Hope and Walking Tall. He says he can’t put a price on being able to donate food to people in need, however it did cost him more than $4,000 to prepare for the four days of the festival.

“The food went to the people that needed it and appreciated it,” Bruce said. “We sent a little bit out here and there today too.”

In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, Bruce expressed grievances with Live Nation and the City of Wilmington. On Monday, Bruce told WWAY he no longer is upset with the city, but rather the food and beverage coordinators.

In a new post shared on Poor Piggy’s Facebook page on Monday, Bruce explained that he deleted the previous post because when someone new visits his page, he wants them to see the good rather than focus on the negative.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, New Hanover, Top Stories