Long Beach leaders discuss proposed food truck ordinance
By Andy Kanengiser
Food trucks are increasingly becoming a growing part of the way people across the U.S. satisfy their taste buds.
People attending community festivals, concerts and other outdoor attractions are seeing more food trucks show up. Such vehicles, well-stocked with a variety of food, drinks and delicious snacks, can be found across the Magnolia State. Operators of these small businesses are located in cities including Hattiesburg and Jackson, as well as Gulf Coast communities like Waveland, Biloxi and Gulfport.
At a workshop on April 13, Long Beach Mayor George Bass and the Board of Aldermen will hear from City planners to begin talks to study the idea of a proposed truck ordinance for the Friendly City. The work session event at City Hall on Jeff Davis Avenue begins at 5 p.m., and the public is invited.
It’s just a first step in what could be a lengthy approval process. Like any issue, there are pros and cons.
Should food trucks become a thing in Long Beach? An ordinance would address a host of items, such as permit fees, a business license and health inspections. The document would spell out everything from A to Z regarding how food trucks can operate.
Some members of the City’s Board of Aldermen say they will need more information before they can tackle the subject in early March. Other City officials note that whatever proposed ordinance is brought forward at the April work session would be subject to change.
Across the country, there were more than 24,600 active food trucks in January 2021, with reports showing that about 30,000 people work in the industry nationwide. The industry’s average annual growth before the COVID-19 pandemic was 7.5 percent. The food truck market business in 2020 exceeded $1.2 billion in market worth. Officials in 2021 predict a yearly growth of 2.4 percent.
Kathy Kuhn and her husband, Anthony, are the co-owners of Beach Dawgs in Harrison County. It is a moveable food cart, not a truck, that operates on the parking lot near Dollar General in Long Beach every other Saturday. The cart moves around to do business at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and the Seabees Base on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Their Mom and Pop business sells hot dogs, smoked sausages, quarter-pound burgers and more to Gulf Coast customers.
“Food trucks would not hurt our business,’’ says Kathy Kuhn, a Long Beach resident. “We are not a food truck, but I would be totally for it. Everybody wants them.’’
Well, not everybody. “Some restaurants would say absolutely not,’’ adds Kuhn, a native New Yorker.
Typically, the special menus at food trucks feature tasty items that are more affordable to make and cheaper for customers to buy compared to restaurants.
Food trucks, Kathy said, would be a “great option’’ to have for Long Beach at future events attracting crowds, such as concerts and downtown parades.
The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on America’s food truck development in 2020, with crowd sizes reduced to meet health protocols and many community festivals cancelled. But the global health emergency won’t last forever. Millions of Americans are weekly receiving COVID-19 vaccines to diminish the number of new coronavirus cases.
Food truck supporters estimate an investment of less than $100,000 is needed to get the business off the ground, including equipment. Keeping costs low, food trucks usually operate with very few employees, with the owners usually on site to do the cooking and serving. People between the ages of 18 and 34 are most likely to grab a meal from a food truck.