By Bob Carlton | AL.com
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Food truck operators around Birmingham have circled the wagons, and announced today they have formed a coalition to promote the city’s growing street food industry and guard against too much government regulation.
The group, which calls itself the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition, began as a Facebook movement last year, when the Birmingham City Council first considered an ordinance that would enforce when and where food trucks and push carts may do business in the city.
After several months and at least two public hearings on the issue, the ordinance has yet to come to a vote before the full council.
The Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition believes some of the proposals in the ordinance are too restrictive and could force truck and cart vendors to leave the city or go out of business.
“What we are fighting for are the same opportunities provided to local area restaurants,” Paget Pizitiz, co-owner of the Melt food truck, said in a press release today. “It doesn’t behoove anyone that the local government would sacrifice our rights to operate and thrive simply because we are mobile.”
Rom Mendez, owner of the Cantina on Wheels food truck, said the street food vendors generate a positive vibe for the city.
“Our food trucks and carts bring incredible benefits to the city of Birmingham,” Mendez said in the release. “Increased food traffic means more customers for local businesses. We help keep the streets safe and provide late-night meal options for bar-hoppers before they make their treks home.
“Food trucks and carts also provide an accessible opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs,” he added. “Allowing us to operate freely in Birmingham will be a win for everyone — entrepreneurs, local businesses, consumers and the city as a whole.”
The group also plans to promote and raise money for the mobile food industry by hosting food-truck festivals similar to the Trucks By the Tracks event last year at Railroad Park, Mac Russell, co-owner of the Shindigs food truck, said today.