Toledo, OH: Celebrates Food Trucks Amid Regulatory Uncertainty

By Josh Kaib  |  Watch Dog Wire


This Saturday, Toledo will celebrate its first Food Truck Fest. But if the city council passes new regulations on the popular dining option, it could be its last.

As reported last week by our sister site, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins proposed a new ordinance before the city council that would heavily regulate food trucks. According to Joel Mazur, the mayor’s assistant chief of staff, the rules are intended to “level the playing field.”

Reaction to the Regulations

Regulations include an additional $1,000 licensing fee, limits on truck size and operating time, and a requirement for $1 million in liability insurance.
The ordinance cites the “proliferation of on-street mobile food vendors” as the reason for the new rules.

So how many food trucks does Toledo have? Just nine.

At last week’s council meeting, nearly 100 citizens came forward against the proposal. Council members weren’t too happy with it either.
Councilwoman Lindsay Webb (D) called out the Mayor for how it introduced its proposal.

“I’ve been on council for seven years and I’ve learned there’s an easy way and hard way [to creat ordinances],” she said. “This administration did it the hard way, crafting legislation without any input in the process from the stakeholders or from City Council. … That’s not a good message from a business-friendly city.”

In reaction to the criticism, the Mayor walked back his proposal.

“This was the beginning of a working document,” Mr. Collins told the council. “It was not our intent to bring this forward for a vote. I am taking the legislation back. I will await further discussion. … I clearly heard today the stakeholders want a part of it.”

A number of food truck vendors, some of whom also own brick and mortar restaurants, also spoke out against the regulations.

Food Truck Fest

Following the community’s reaction to the proposed new regulations, perhaps it is fitting that Food Truck Fest is this Saturday (July 12 from 3 to 8 p.m.).

The event, hosted by the Collingwood Arts Center and sponsored by Miller Lite, is intended to show off the city’s diverse food truck offerings to the community.

Adam Sattler, owner of the Ottawa Tavern’s Wanderlust Sandwich Co. truck, explained the food truck scene to the Toledo Blade.

“Some of the new trucks are expansions of existing restaurants, but a lot are incubators for new ideas — Cuban food, smoked potatoes, our internationally-inspired sandwiches — whatever it is. And I think that from a cultural standpoint, they enrich our city. They give people new delicious, affordable quick-service options.”

He also explained that having food trucks in the city is part of making Toledo more trendy.

“People talk about Portland, San Francisco, and Nashville when they talk about creative food and food trucks are a major part of that,” Mr. Sattler said. “There’s no reason Toledo can’t move in that direction.”