Napa’s Food Truck Friday “Could Never Work in Sonoma”

Napa Valley's DimSumCharlies

Napa Valley's DimSumCharlies

By Alexis Fitts |

Here’s the scene: downtown Napa on a Friday night after dusk.

Friends, kids, and neighbors gather in the almost-frigid January evening to stuff their faces with the most delicious bites from Northern California.

It’s Food Truck Friday, a blatantly trendy event with a homespun vibe, where once a month a motley assembly of food vendors trek their carts to a dirt yard just a few steps from the Oxbow Public Market.

The owners of Dim Sum Charlie’s, which serves the piping hot Chinese finger food out of a rehabbed Airstream, are looking to spearhead a similar effort in Sonoma.

They’ve got a second trailer fixed up and ready to go. They plan to purchase property in Sonoma, plop down their Airstream trailer lay the foundation for a food truck scene in Sonoma.

That’s why Sonoma city council member Ken Brown made a fact-finding trip to the monthly chuck-wagon round-up Jan. 8, accompanied by local reporters.

So what’s the problem?

“This could never work in Sonoma,” said Brown, shaking his head with dismay. He cased the Food Truck Friday premises, pointing out problems.

A steep stairway lacked a railing. The fire-pits didn’t have covers. Tables were jammed together: In Sonoma, there would need to be several feet between seating areas.

And, with so many people, where were the handicapped-accessible porta-potties?

Sonoma’s planning commissioners are notoriously stringent in their safety standards, as it is their job to be.

But where do you draw the line between maintaining public order and being a stick in the mud?

Everyone who visited Napa’s Food Truck Friday agreed that a regular winter gathering would fill a large gap in the Sonoma social scene.

After the Tuesday night Farmers’ Market ends its season, the opportunities for regular events seem to dwindle out.

So, should Sonoma relax its planning regulations for public events? Or is public safety too big a responsibility for us to take as lightly as our Napa neighbors?