Some Restaurant Owners Not on the Food Truck Bandwagon

Carolina Creole (Provided)

By Natalie Caula |

Carolina Creole (Provided)

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) – Jeff Filosa traded in his suit for an apron when the economy went up in flames. The former mortgage broker now owns and operates the Mount Pleasant based food truck Carolina Creole.

“We couldn’t come up with the capital to fund a restaurant,” Filosa said. “There are a lot of people who are running these food truck businesses who lost their jobs or the industry they were working in, like the mortgage industry, was really no longer lucrative.”

Wednesday Filosa was busy around lunch time, selling gator bites and roast duck po’ boys. The fryer sizzled in the back of the truck with the New Orleans favorite, beignets. While Filosa typically likes to park his mobile kitchen in Mount Pleasant, Wednesday they were in an alley on the Old Navy Base in North Charleston.

“Because of the zoning, there were a lot of pockets we weren’t allowed in, we’re hoping that will change,” he said.

The hope stems from a meeting scheduled by Mount Pleasant’s planning committee. They are expected to discuss food trucks and regulations on Monday. Town administrator Eric DeMoura says nothing is currently on the books.

“It’s the wild, wild West for food trucks in Mount Pleasant now,” DeMoura said.

That could change as restaurant owners east of the Cooper raised a red flag. Tony Page, the owner of Page’s Okra Grill on Coleman Boulevard, says there should be rules in place to make it fair for all the existing brick and mortar restaurants in Mount Pleasant.

“I’m not anti-capitalist, anti-entrepreneur. It’s the American way. Lets all make money together. Let’s just make sure we’re all playing the game on an even playing field, no one has unfair competitive advantage” Page said.

According to the Charleston Restaurant Association, Mount Pleasant restaurants pay out $3 million a year in hospitality taxes, five percent of the town’s revenue. They also pay about $300,000 in business license fees. Page says food trucks should be contributing as well.

DeMoura says technically they are required to pay the same fees and taxes, but says without any rules on the books, it’s hard to regulate.

Filosa says he pays all the taxes and fees and is subject to the same inspections by DHEC as brick and mortar restaurants.

Both restaurant owners and food truck followers are expected to attend the meeting on Monday. Filoso says members of the Charleston Food Truck Federation will also be in attendance.

“We’re just trying to earn a living,” he said.

Meanwhile, those lining up at food trucks around the Lowcountry seem to be eating up the idea.