A committee appointed to review town of Farragut’s ordinances on food trucks discovered the person who initiated the issue might have found a solution to his need to have food in his tavern.
However, after about an hour, committee members decided during its meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18, to focus on the Town’s special events and tavern ordinances. Committee will meet again starting at 8:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, in Farragut Town Hall boardroom.
Committee members, made up of Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Farragut Municipal Planning Commissioners and Ecomonic Developement Advisory Commissioner members, wondered if they should continue meeting after Dr. Pat O’Brien, owner of The Casual Pint-Farragut, who initiated a request for an ordinance permitting food trucks, decided instead to apply for a permit to add a kitchen to his business in Kroger Marketplace.
O’Brien first approached the Board in summer 2015 about an ordinance allowing food trucks, town of Farragut administrator David Smoak said.
“He wanted to have food trucks at his location, and so we were trying to find ways to do that,” Smoak said. “At the time, we allowed special event permits. He used those throughout the season.”
O’Brien waited a year to come back and ask for an ordinance amendment, and a food truck committee was formed, Smoak added. “Some of the issues that we need to address are, one, the food truck issue itself.”
“As you have seen, the City of Knoxville has been talking about it a lot. It’s passed an ordinance recently after having a pilot program for over a year.
“Obviously, we’re a suburban community with a different makeup from the City of Knoxville,” Smoak added. “So, those are factors you may want to take into consideration. There are different ways you can look at food trucks.
“You can look Town-wide; you can put them in certain areas; you can look at the zoning districts we currently have and amend those districts to allow food trucks at certain times of the year or have certain events that allow them.”
Smoak said in the last couple of weeks, O’Brien asked the Town to amend the beer ordinance to allow him to have a kitchen.
“I don’t know his having a kitchen at his location would allow him not to have food trucks or not, but certainly that may solve his problem if that occurs,” Smoak said, adding the item has yet to go before the Board.
“He seems to be the only vocal retailer pushing for this that I’ve heard,” Vice Mayor Ron Pinchok, a committee member, said. “I haven’t heard from any other retailers.”
“Do you still want to pursue food trucks?” Smoak asked.
Reactions to allowing food trucks were mixed among committee members. Knick Myers suggested having a “food truck park,” which he discovered while traveling.
He said peoples’ tastes and demands have changed the restaurant business from the brick-and-mortar establishments to more mobile venues.
However, Pamela Milliken, a Farragut EDAC member who also represents Zaxby’s restaurant in Turkey Creek, said food trucks could discourage potential restaurant owners from opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Farragut.
“Where is the motivation?” Milliken asked. She added the benefits to the Town for having brick-and-mortar restaurants is their commitment to the community.
“We go out and support the schools,” she said about Zaxby’s. “About 25 percent of our profit is given back to the community. If I was to have a food truck for six months out of the year, what incentive is it for me to give back to the community?”
Alderman Louise Povlin, a committee member, said she wants to look at special events requirements during the winter Shop Farragut time frame.
Still, she said, “I don’t support an ordinance for food trucks.
“If we do one, I would want one where the only food trucks allowed in Town operating without a special event permit would be domicile in Farragut because we can’t capture the Sales Tax from anything outside of it and, especially with what’s going on with the Gas Tax and proposal with reducing tax on food, I’m a little nervous about our bottom line.
“I would rather look at our special events permit, and I would like to direct our tavern ordinance to make it a requirement that a certain percentage be sales of food because it’s clearly evident that our taverns need food,” Povlin said.
Pinchok agreed with Povlin, adding he would like to see the special events permits regulations expanded regarding food trucks.