Those who like/dislike ‘food trucks’ in Dexter can speak before council tonight

In many urban areas food trucks and other mobile food vendors have become popular and even ubiquitous, depending on the size of the area in question. In some public places the food trucks are the most anticipated attraction each summer and they’re even the basis for reality shows.

But do they belong in Dexter, and to what extent?

This is what the Dexter City Council has been hoping to determine, after placing a moratorium on additional food trucks last June. That measure is only effective until December, although food trucks in Dexter typically only set up shop here during the warm parts of the year.

Before the ban, a mobile hot-dog vendor received a permit to be at the Dexter Farmer’s Market days, while multiple full-blown food trucks have been a regular part of people’s experience at the NULL Tap House. The former requires city permits due to being on public land, while the latter is held on private property and is therefore not within the city’s ordinance jurisdiction.

Mayor Shawn Keough has expressed skepticism towards allowing mobile food vendors unfettered access to the city’s public property, while the reaction of the rest of council has ranged from guardedly curious to subtly skeptical.

It’s worth noting that mobile food trucks didn’t really start their upward trend of popularity in Michigan until 2012, particularly with the rise of the mobile food vendor scene in metro-Detroit.

Many of these outfits are either extensions of brick-and-mortar restaurants or a mobile business incubator for foodie entrepreneurs looking to safely cook a restaurant brand and menu without the high risk associated with a traditional restaurant business. Brick-and-mortar restaurants have an average 85 percent failure rate.

While entrepreneurs finding ways to safely build the next wave of small businesses in Michigan while hedging their bets against failure is admirable and even expected, depending on how you look at it, the question of how many of these mobile businesses Dexter can accommodate is one of many questions.

Some places like Washington DC perform a lottery of sorts where applicants can “win” sanction to set up shop in certain places during certain times.

Food trucks are the fastest growing sector of the restaurant industry, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 annual industry report. This sector of the business made $700 million in sales in 2013, just five years after debuting in the country in 2008. That’s 1 percent of total U.S. restaurant sales.

The same study also found that 19 percent of fast casual restaurants are considering opening a mobile food operation next year.

What do you think the city’s response should be to this matter? Please leave a comment in the below comments section or engage with the post pertaining to this article on our Facebook page.

For the full paperwork pertaining to tonight’s public hearing, including ordinance language, see the below embedded excerpt from the tonight’s city council meeting.

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