By Jamie Innis | Up North Live
TRAVERSE CITY — After a lot of debate, food trucks have taken over Traverse City.
An ordinance passed in May allows food trucks to set up shop in four city parking lots.
Down on Front Street, there’s a busy corner where dozens of customers are taking advantage of a variety offered by four different trucks.
“I just had a really good cheese sandwich, probably the best I’ve ever had and we waited about 5 minutes,” says John Wagner, a vacationer in the Traverse City area.
That praise is often heard on this little patch of Front Street now that food trucks have taken over. Truck owner Simon Joseph says people are surprised to find such a unique menu. “When people think of food trucks or concession stands, they don’t think of gourmet type tacos or a smoker on a truck… so they want to find out what it’s all about.”
It’s a trend spreading across the U.S. right now, as well as something heavily debated here in Northern Michigan. With the new ordinance in place, the trucks rolled out just in time for the National Cherry Festival and they say business is booming.
“The amount of traffic we’ve had is overwhelming. We keep running out of food,” says Benjamin Brown who works at Pigs Eating Ribs.
That traffic has brick and mortar restaurants worried. They argue their customers are being taken away. Some people 7&4 talked to admitted they chose to eat at the truck rather than wait two hours for a table.
“We were like, ‘wow, this is really cool, lets do this instead,” says Wagner.
Truck owners say they don’t consider themselves in direct competition with the city’s sit-down restaurants because they offer a different experience. People will still want to have the typical restaurant outing; the food truck offers good, and mostly local food, fast, which is something to write home about.
“This is something cool enough that you’d actually go home and tell somebody about,” says Wagner.
It gets the nod, but is it worth a second trip? That’s something that remains to be seen. There’s a lot of traffic now because the food trucks are new, but once the novelty wears off, where will the business land?
“It’ll be interesting to see how it all translates and how much business there is here for food trucks,” says Joseph.
The meals there won’t cost you too much. They range from about $4-8, which customers say is a good way to eat well on the go.
The truck workers say the more the merrier when it comes to food trucks in the area. There’s a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie among them. They’re not fighting for business because when there are two trucks, there are two trucks-worth of customers, and when there are four trucks, there are plenty more to share.