By LARRY HIGGS • STAFF WRITER • November 9, 2010
RED BANK — Can the owner of a gourmet food truck find a legal place on the streets of his hometown?
Adam Sobel, proprietor of the Cinnamon Snail gourmet vegetarian food truck, posed that question and some solutions to the Borough Council Monday.
While a recently passed ordinance adding streets to where food trucks are prohibited from setting up shop isn’t likely to be revised or repealed. Mayor Pasquale “Pat” Menna said he’s willing to consider setting aside parking spaces that would be auctioned off for food truck use.
“It doesn’t make sense to retract the ordinance, but he made some positive suggestions on actions the borough could take to license and auction parking,” Menna said. “Licensing and bidding is the way to go, if the council will consider it.”
Sobel’s food truck sells gourmet vegan food, free of animal-based products, which was nominated for a “Vendy” award this year in the rookie category of the annual competition between New York-area food trucks and carts. The Cinnamon Snail can be found parked on Sinatra Drive in Hoboken, near the waterfront during the week and at the Red Bank farmers market on Sundays.
Sobel, 28, who had some enthusiastic supporters, told the council that he is not competing with brick and mortar, sit-down restaurants, since he doesn’t have tables. He suggested the council designate a “vending area” with parking for food trucks. The borough would take bids on and lease that space out, he said.
“There are many ways our business model doesn’t conflict with other businesses,” he said. “Our customers eat on paper plates, on their laps, in their cars, there is no wait staff and no reservations”
Red Bank’s ordinance prohibits vendors from parking on more than 25 streets and from staying more than 10 minutes in one place, something that Sobel said is restrictive. Despite the lack of a permanent location, Sobel said he has customers who’ve driven an hour to eat at the Cinnamon Snail. Customers find his location using Twitter and Facebook.
“We were on White Street where few restaurants operate,” Sobel said. “I didn’t feel that we posed a threat to anyone.”
White Street was one of four streets added to where food trucks are now banned.