Atlanta, GA: Police Raid ‘Food Truck Wednesday’ in Virginia Highland

By Jon Watson | Access Atlanta

Atlanta Police arrived at this week’s Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highland and issued citations to five different trucks for the lack of proper permits.

Bettie Cagle, who organizes of the weekly food truck gathering, stepped away from the park for a few minutes, returning around 8:15 p.m. to find two police officers in the park checking permits for each of the vendors. The permits in question – the City of Atlanta business licenses that requires a vendor must have a license for each specific address they operate from – appear to be the same ones that led to the temporary closing of the Atlanta Food Truck Park this May.

“It is not a health or safety issue. These guys are fully permitted and follow all of the health regulation codes,” said Cagle, “but when you are at an event and the police come and shut it down, there is a lot of speculation, which makes me nervous for the trucks.”

The officers that arrived on the scene explained that they were responding to a complaint, but, at the time, did not explain the nature of the complaint or who filed it. However, I spoke with Officer John Chafee of the Public Affairs unit of the APD, who explained that “Our License and Permits Unit was responding to an anonymous complaint regarding food trucks operating in the Virginia Highlands area.”

Cagle, who also organizes the relatively new Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays, went on to say that many of the suburban cities are coming out as much more supportive of food trucks, and that has many vendors looking outside the perimeter as a safe haven from the convoluted processes that vendors must deal with in the City of Atlanta.

“I really think it is why the trucks are migrating out of the city,” Cagle explained, “because I think Atlanta is theoretically behind it, but there aren’t a lot of processes in place.” Cagle said that the recent events in Smyrna have been drawing crowds as large as 1,000 people.

All five of the trucks that were cited were shut down for the remainder of the evening, which constituted over half of the trucks in attendance. Cagle confirmed that Food Truck Wednesday will go on next week as planned.