Food Truck to Move; Overnight Parking Breaks Rule

Courtney Hergesheimer | DISPATCH Patrons wait for their orders at the Yerba Buena Latin Grill food truck on N. High Street in Clintonville.

By  Mark Ferenchik | The Columbus Dispatch

Courtney Hergesheimer | DISPATCH Patrons wait for their orders at the Yerba Buena Latin Grill food truck on N. High Street in Clintonville.

After less than four months in Clintonville, the popular Yerba Buena Latin Grill food truck will move during Labor Day weekend.

The Venezuelan food truck might not move far, perhaps. Somewhere else in the North Side neighborhood, maybe over on Indianola Avenue, owner Carolina Gutierrez said.

“People are familiar with our food. They’re very friendly there,” she said.

Mostly friendly.

Someone called the city in June to complain about Yerba Buena, which is parked in the lot of a vacant office building at 4100 N. High St.

On Aug. 10, city inspectors cited the business for operating without the proper zoning clearance. The food truck was parked there overnight, in violation of city zoning rules.

So, as food trucks continue to gain a fan base across Columbus — the Columbus Food Truck & Cart Fest at Downtown’s Columbus Commons last night featured more than 25 trucks and carts — growing pains continue.

City code enforcement manager Dana Rose said his office receives several complaints every month about food trucks parked overnight and the chairs and tables placed outside the businesses, another violation.

Chris Presutti, the city’s chief zoning official, said they might be accepted in some neighborhoods more than others.

But Dave Paul of the Northland Community Council said he receives complaints about food trucks that have set up shop along commercial corridors such as Morse Road.

John DeFourny, chairman of the Clintonville Area Commission, told a weekly newspaper in June that he worried that food trucks would siphon business from nearby restaurants.

Yesterday, he insisted he had nothing to do with Yerba Buena’s citation.

“The violation is a storage issue,” said DeFourny, a local real-estate broker. “I’m not forcing anybody to move.”

Julie Lindemann said she will follow Yerba Buena wherever it moves.

She became such a fan of Yerba Buena Latin Grill that she sometimes stops there during her commute home to Grandview Heights from her job in New Albany to sample Latin American dishes such as patacons and fish tacos.

“I don’t care where it is. I’ll personally go where it is,” she said while waiting for her order one afternoon this week.

Farther south in Clintonville, Paul Borkoski operates his Yankee Cajun trailer four days a week along Indianola Avenue in the parking lot of the Crest Tavern. He opened in April.

He said he sometimes leaves the trailer overnight and that no one has complained. In fact, he said he was asked to work a Clintonville block party this weekend.

Some restaurant owners embrace the competition.

“I love having them in the city. I love seeing them blossom,” said Kevin Malhame, a founder of Northstar Cafe, which has a location on N. High near Yerba Buena.

“You don’t want one parking in front of your front door,” he said. “But in general, they foster an interest in food. They foster excitement about food.”

Complaint or no complaint, Gutierrez said she has to move anyway because property owner Fifth Third Bank plans to build a branch there.

She and her husband, who own the Downtown restaurant El Arepazo, want to buy another food truck, she said.

“People need to be more open-minded in the city,” she said. “You want to have more variety.”