“Food Truck Fridays” Halted in Napa

Photo -Louisa Hufstader

By Louisa Hufstader | Napa Patch

The popular monthly mobile restaurant gatherings are on hold till further notice; city planning commission to take up the matter in April.


Photo -Louisa Hufstader

Food Truck Fridays, the monthly first-Friday convocation of mobile restaurants in downtown Napa’s Oxbow district, has been halted until further notice as the city of Napa’s planning staff seeks to bring the event into compliance with a raft of municipal regulations and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“There are some pretty significant issues,” said city planning director Rick Tooker in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

Tooker provided Napa Patch with a list of those issues, which he also called “talking points,” prepared for the city planning commission and council.

The list includes concerns about fire safety, handicapped accessibility, crowded conditions and alcohol use.

Tooker said a number of the food trucks invited to the 724 First Street property by its owner, Andrew Siegal of Dim Sum Charlie’s Mobile Food Cart, did not have local permits and that Siegal himself had not obtained the necessary permit to hold a large gathering at the site.

Siegal told Napa Patch that he felt “very betrayed” by the city after having worked for six months to develop an event that successfully attracted customers to the Oxbow district and downtown.

“I felt like they had encouraged us to continue,” he said.

Siegal said that the Napa County Environmental Management Department, which regulates food safety in Napa restaurants, had worked with Food Truck Fridays to issue on-the-spot permits to the visiting trucks at the last event March 4.

“We thought that was probably one of the most extraordinary things for a department that not always known as very business-friendly,” he said.

But while he felt the county was cooperative, Siegal said the formerly positive attitude of city staff had changed in his most recent meeting with Tooker and other planning department employees, when they told him there had to be changes before the event could continue.

“I kind of feel submarined,” Siegal said.

Tooker said the planning commission would likely take up the matter of Food Truck Fridays in April.

Siegal said he was meeting Tuesday with Steve Carlin, owner of the Oxbow Public Market, to discuss strategies for sustaining the event, which Tooker said came to the city’s attention after it attracted hundreds of people in February.

Siegal’s Airstream-based Dim Sum Charlie’s continues to dish out steamed buns, ribs and other Asian fare at his First Street property – when it’s not faring farther afield:

Flora Springs Winery in Rutherford is now hosting a Food Truck Friday event on the third week of the month, and Siegal is spearheading an inaugural Sonoma round-up at Sebastiani Winery this Friday.

At the same time, south Napa has lost its own food truck gathering: the Third Thursday event at the Napa Valley Culinary Centre on Devlin Road has also been put on hold.

Mark Raymond, proprietor of Mark’s The Spot truck, said that gathering is on hiatus for 60 to 90 days while the property owner resolves a corporate bylaw prohibiting food trucks on the site.