Charlotte, NC: Food Trucks Can Skip the Full Kitchen Under New Law

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By Kristy Etheridge |

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – A change in North Carolina state law now allows food truck owners to forego using a stationary commercial kitchen to prepare their food.

For the last several years, “the commissary rule” forced food truck owners to maintain a commissary in conjunction with their mobile units. Now, owners can apply for an exemption if their food trucks meet all the sanitation requirements of a commercial kitchen.

Kelli Crisan owns Roaming Fork Bistro on Wheels in Charlotte. She opened her business after moving to North Carolina from Florida.

“I’m a huge foodie, and when we moved here I kept saying, ‘Where are the food trucks?'” said Crisan.

In 2011, she answered her own question by starting her own business. In order to keep up with food volume, she also rents space in a commissary shared with Meals on Wheels and several other groups.

Until recently, every food truck in North Carolina had to have a commissary, but the law just changed after complaints that it was too expensive to maintain a commercial kitchen in order to run a food truck.

Crisan has mixed feelings about the change to the law.

“If you’re going to run a food truck, people want to make sure that your food is clean and you’re sanitizing properly and you’re up to proper temperatures,” said Crisan. She thinks commissaries make it easier for vendors to keep neat, clean facilities that are large enough for proper food preparation. She also sees potential benefits in the law change, such as convenience.  On busy days, vendors could hop from one event to another without checking in at the commissary.

Food truck patrons also have mixed feelings about the changes. Leya Greenhill thinks the law will help small business owners thrive without facing the costs of opening a kitchen.  However, she still plans to be careful where she eats.

“Perhaps if it’s a reputable food truck that you’re comfortable with, it’d be a lot different than just going up to somewhere that you don’t know,” said Greenhill.

As for Crisan, she plans to keep her kitchen, regardless of how other food trucks decide to roll.