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RED BANK: FOOD TRUCKS COMING?

johnnys-1-111113-500x332-7424332John Yarusi risked a summons when he parked his Johnny’s Pork Roll truck on Wallace Street in a short-lived experiment test of borough law in 2013. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Is Red Bank ready to finally  open the gate for food trucks?

The possibility that the borough might allow two mobile eateries to operate here was among the topics discussed at Wednesday’s semimonthly borough council meeting.cinnamon-snail-2-051213-500x375-3476803Council committees will take up the question of whether to permit two food truck permits to be issued. Above, a file photo of the Cinnamon Snail at the Red Bank Farmers’ market, which operates on private property. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Mayor Pasquale Menna floated the idea of allowing two yet-to-be-selected lunch trucks to operate in town, one on the West Side and one on the East. He suggested Shrewsbury Avenue or the train station for one location, and Marine Park as the other.

The permits would be issued “provisionally, for a year, to see how it would work,” Menna said.

“We have a lot of people asking why Red Bank doesn’t do what Asbury Park and a lot of other municipalities do,” he said from the dais.

He also noted what he called the “extraordinary success” of the new Gracie and the Dudes ice cream stand in Riverside Gardens Park, a facility that sat nearly idle for two decades over perceptions that a commercial operation there would hurt existing eateries.

Historically, the borough government has been unwelcoming to lunch trucks, vendors contend. In 2011, the council said it would look into creating a dedicated spot near the train station that mobile food vendors could compete for, but the effort died a quick, quiet death after objections were raised by brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Two years later, Adam Sobel, owner of the popular Cinnamon Snail vegan truck, abandoned his pursuit of a promised street permit after encountering what he described as red tape.

Downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter, meanwhile, “does not support food trucks anywhere in the RiverCenter district,” executive director Jim Scavone told redbankgreen.

When Councilwoman Kathy Horgan asked Menna Wednesday night whether the matter was being raised anew because someone had requested it, Menna said it was.

“There’s a diversity of interest,” he said. “The biggest problem will be picking the trucks.”

The issue will now be taken up by the parks and rec committee, headed by Councilman Mark Taylor, and the parking committee, headed by Councilman Mike Whelan, who are expected to report back to the council at a future meeting.

 

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