Food trucks have become their own subgenre of the Triangle's food scene, gaining national attention and local devotion. But, as we've reported before, some truck vendors are operating on the sly. They hope to change that next week.
Vendors based in Raleigh, like Mike Stenke, owner/ driver/ chef of Klausie's Pizza (klausies.com), feel like expats in Durham and Carrboro. They can't operate in Raleigh, Stenke says, without going through a web of red tape to get a $75 permit for one spot that must be renewed every 20 days or so. If they want to move to a new spot on a different day, they need another permit.
Stenke hopes to draw a crowd of food truck lovers to a Raleigh City Council zoning hearing (Raleigh Municipal Building, 222 W. Hargett St.) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19. The agenda includes a public hearing on zoning permits for food trucks.
"I'm gonna be giving free food away with a number of other trucks doing the same thing," Stenke says. "And yes, it is a bribe. It's absolutely a bribe."
Under existing laws, Stenke says, vendors have devised ways to avoid getting caught parking in a spot more than once, but he's not up for beating around the bush. "I don't want a law where I may be getting away with stuff," he says. "I want something that's very clear and works the way a food truck works."
In September, Stenke presented a proposal for city food truck regulations, including logistical solutions to parking and proximity to brick-and-mortar restaurants. Last week, the city presented new language for the zoning ordinance regarding food trucks. Approval is pending next week's meeting. The new rules would require food vendors to have a City of Raleigh business license, an N.C. Sales and Use Certificate and a Wake County Environmental Services Vending Permit in order to receive a zoning permit. Permits would be renewed annually.
Other amendments include a specific location based on zone and/or principal building that is at least 50 feet from a food business or other street cart; no free-standing signs or audio amplification; hours of operation set from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m.; and removal of waste and grease, with no grease to be disposed of in the city's sewer system.
If you want the pizza but not the politics, you can catch Klausie's at the Boylan Heights art gallery Rebus Works (301-2 Kinsey St., 754-8452, rebusworks.us) Thursday at 5:30 for a Food Truck Rodeo. No cowboys here, but there will be wrestlers from Gouge Wrestling duking it out. What's being served? Klausie's Chicago-style pizza squares, the classic OnlyBurger, homemade pimento cheese sandwiches by the just-launched nonprofit Grilled Cheese Bus, tacos con kimchi from Bulkogi Korean BBQ and Blue Sky Dining's crabcake sandwiches. Cool off with a Kona Ice or a microbrew from Aviator Brewing, our neighbors out in Fuquay-Varina.
The gallery is hosting the rodeo to promote the launch of its Saturday Market, Raleigh's newest urban farmers market and local goods open-air shop. It'll run every Saturday 9 a.m.–2 p.m., April 23–Nov. 19. The gallery is already a source of good local eats: Stop by for a bar of Escazu Artisan Chocolates or a bag of Larry's Beans coffee.