Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch expressed concern over a new amendment that would allow food trucks within 100 feet of restaurants.
During a Dec. 13 Dunwoody City Council meeting, city staff presented an amendment to the city’s code that would allow food trucks to be located within 100 feet of a restaurant, as long as the food truck operators acquired permission from the owners of said restaurant. The amendment would also not require trucks to move after the close of business, as long as they are not visible from the street.
Senior Planner Madalyn Smith said the amendment arose from a need within the Dunwoody Village’s new entertainment complex, which eventually will become a grouping of restaurants surrounding a courtyard. The complex currently includes a food truck to serve patrons of the newly opened Bar(n), a craft wine, beer, and whiskey bar.
“The owner would like to utilize that courtyard and activate the space,“ Smith said. “This amendment would apply to that specific project, but it could also be generally applied to other similarly underutilized open spaces.”
Deutsch said she worried that the amendment would negatively affect surrounding restaurants, which are more expensive to keep running than a food truck.
“We put this in place years ago to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from food trucks, because food trucks don’t have the same overhead,” Deutsch said, referring to the rule that food trucks have to be 100 feet away from a restaurant. “So how are we going to make sure that every restaurant or eating or drinking establishment gives permission?”
Smith said if the amendment passed, food truck owners would be responsible for getting permission from affected restaurants less than 100 feet away, but Deutsch still had reservations about the amendment.
“We have other areas that are dense with restaurants,” she said. “I think we have a responsibility … to keep a level playing field where possible.”
David Abes, the owner and developer of the complex, said striking a balance between restaurants and the food trucks in the wording of the amendment would be essential.
“We want to be fair to everybody, especially brick and mortar,” he said. “But I think for us to evolve, the city of Dunwoody, with breweries and different spaces, they have to have some component with that.”
Abes also said he thought having some sort of non-compete aspect in the food truck regulation would be helpful, so food trucks could not set up near restaurants with similar cuisines.
“You can’t have Mellow Mushroom and then have a pizza [food truck] right in that parking lot,” Abes said.
The amendment is expected to be back before the council at its next meeting.