By Will Isern | Pensacola News Journal
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward announced Wednesday that he will allow food trucks in the city hall parking lot three days a week.
Beginning Jan. 7, the trucks will be allowed at city hall every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The trucks will be able to serve lunch and dinner starting at 11 a.m. in a corner of the parking lot closest to Spring and Main streets. Only three trucks will be allowed in the parking lot at a time, and a rotation of different trucks will be managed by Denise Shelton of Pensacola Cooks Kitchen.
The move comes after a failed attempt by the City Council in November to pass an ordinance to allow and regulate food trucks within city limits. The food truck debate began more than three years ago.
Hayward said he made the decision after hearing from residents and looking to other cities.
“I think the citizens want food trucks,” Hayward said. “Progressive, smart cities have food trucks and we want to support local businesses and entrepreneurs that are willing to take a risk.”
He said it was time for something to happen after three years of debate by City Council with no result. The Council passed an ordinance in October, but couldn’t muster enough votes to pass it last month.
“It seemed they couldn’t move the needle and I think from a leadership standpoint we need to move this forward so that’s what I’m doing,” Hayward said.
The announcement was welcome news to Nomadic Eats food truck owner Randy Russell. He looks forward to coming downtown when he can, but wouldn’t abandon his regulars at Pensacola State College just for the opportunity
“I think it’s great they’re showing good faith in spite of the food truck ordinance failing so I’d like to show good faith back,” Russell said.
City Council President Charles Bare said he supports the mayor’s action, but would prefer to see the council pass an ordinance.
“Obviously I’d like it to be less restrictive and off city property, but, on the other hand I would love to see food trucks in our parks,” Bare said.