By Bob Sandrick | Sun News
PARMA Attendees of this year’s Polish Constitution Day parade, scheduled for May 5, may enjoy a wider variety of food during the after-party.
The city has invited four Cleveland gourmet food trucks — Zydeco Bistro, Umami Moto, the Nosh Box and StrEat Bistro — to help cater the event.
To make it financially worthwhile for the food trucks, the city wants to waive the fee each normally would have to pay as an “itinerant” or mobile vendor.
“Requiring each itinerant vendor to pay a $100 fee for a one-day, four-hour event would place an undue financial burden on the vendor and limit the city’s ability to attract food vendors for the event,” says a proposed ordinance that would waive the fee.
The invitation to outside vendors, and the proposed waiving of the fee, has not gone over well with Jon Holt, co-owner of Little Polish Diner on Ridge Road.
“We’re upset that the city has hijacked the after-party that we have been handling on our own for years,” Holt told the Sun Post last week.
The issue was first discussed at a March 11 meeting of council’s Finance Committee.
At the meeting, Erik Tollerup, the city’s director of community services and economic development, said attendance at the Polish Constitution Day parade has grown to about 5,000 since it first came to Parma in 2010.
Tollerup said just one restaurant — Little Polish Diner — has catered the after-party each year but can no longer handle it alone.
Council President Sean Brennan asked if city officials had asked LPD and other Parma restaurants how they feel about waiving the itinerant-vendor fee for the Cleveland food carts.
Brennan said other Parma businesses have complained in the past about itinerant vendors temporarily setting up shop in Parma.
Councilwoman Debbie Lime, who sponsored the fee-waiving ordinance, replied that invitations to participate in the Polish parade and after-party were sent to all businesses in Polish Village. She said 95 percent of them agreed to take part.
However, Holt told the Sun Post he did not receive an invitation. He said city officials didn’t tell him they were inviting outside vendors to work the after-party.
Holt said it isn’t true that LPD cannot handle the after-party by itself anymore.
“I may write a letter to the mayor (Tim DeGeeter) about how upset I am,” Holt said.
Holt said that he has been sole sponsor of the after-party for three years and even sponsored a Polish Constitution Day party for two years before the parade came to Parma.
LPD traditionally had the party in its rear parking lot. Holt agreed the party has grown, and this year his landlord withheld permission to host the party, due partly to liability concerns.
Holt said he proposed hosting the after-party in a parking lot outside St. Charles Borromeo Church on Ridge, but Lime said no. He said she was concerned that the party would disturb the nearby residential neighborhood.
According to Holt, Lime then told him that he was no longer an after-party sponsor but that he could help cater the event.
Lime said she had no comment.
Tollerup the Ohio Division of the Polish American Congress — not Holt or LPD — has sponsored the parade after-party.
Francis Rutkowski, first vice president of the Ohio PAC, said his organization will do the same this year.
“It’s not his (Holt’s) event,” Rutkowski said. “The after-party is part of the weekend sponsored by the Ohio Division of the Polish American Congress. And it always has been, even when it (the parade and after-party) was in Cleveland.”
Rutkowski said the Ohio PAC approves of the city’s plan to bring in outside food vendors.
“It was always the hope of the congress that the event would get bigger each year,” Rutkowski said.