By Renee Richardson | BrainerdDispatch.com
Brainerd City Council members turned aside a recommendation to deny food truck operations within the city, voting instead to set up a committee to explore regulations to allow them.
Brainerd Mayor James Wallin was asked to contact his counterpart in the city of Baxter and look at what the two cities may find in agreement regarding food truck regulations.
Currently Baxter is working on regulations and allowed Prairie Bay’s food truck to operate in the interim.
Council member Chip Borkenhagen said he thought it was really important to take the time to figure out what works best and to work with Baxter.
Council member Mary Koep said she thought it was a good idea to sit down with Baxter. She said they may or may not come to common ground but nothing would be lost with the conversation.
“I think at some point we are going to have to allow it,” Koep said, saying if the subject went to court she thinks the city would have to allow it as free enterprise. “I don’t think you can keep them out — not forever,”
The council agreed to establish a committee with Wallin, Borkenhagen and Council President Bonnie Cumberland, along with a representative of Prairie Bay restaurant and one from the brick and mortar business community.
The food truck is currently able to go to an invited business location in Brainerd and serve the employees as long as it’s not parked in conspicuous spot and open to the public.
Council member Dave Pritschet said he thinks the market is big enough for both the food trucks and brick and mortar businesses.
“I don’t think this is a winner take all, zero sum game,” Pritschet said.
Council member Dale Parks said he would like to have a representative of brick and mortar business involved on the committee.
Parks said those businesses have the most resistance and the most to lose with any type of food truck.
Bevans said it would be easier to have a small group to start than a thousand masons without a plan. Borkenhagen said many hours have already been spent on this.
Matt Annand, Prairie Bay executive chef and owner, noted Baxter is letting the food truck serve the public and forming regulations as they see how it operates.
“We want to show how respectful we can be to other businesses around us,” Annand said.