Food trucks coming to Jacksonville Beach

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 03 2014 08:44:27 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 03 2014 11:18:15 PM EST

The food fight in Jacksonville Beach is over: food trucks are coming.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -

Several ordinances were approved Monday night at Jacksonville Beach City Hall that will allow food trucks to set up shop while hopefully not hurting existing businesses.

Robert Stewart is excited about the ruling. He just bought a food truck and lives in Ocala. He's now planning to move his truck out to Jax Beach, where he thinks business will be great.

"Especially during the summer, it's just an open place," Stewart said. "A lot of people like good food and instead of going into a restaurant sitting down, they'd rather just grab something to eat."

Beach locals like Michael Binder are also applauding the city's decision to allow mobile food vendors.

"It's not divided at all," Binder said. "There's actually one or two businesses that don't serve good food that are concerned, but that's it. Everybody's excited about this."

There have been concerns about whether these mobile vendors -- who don't pay property taxes -- will be able to undercut current Jax Beach restaurants with lower prices.

That's one reason why this is a temporary ordinance that expires in April 2015.

The city council wants to try it out and see if so-called brick-and-mortar restaurants can coexist with their mobile counterparts who will have multiple regulations, so they don't have an unfair advantage.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham thinks the two entities can make it work.

"I think the way that (the ordinance) was written it provides a restrictive environment for food trucks to come in and establish an operating entity," Latham said.

The ordinance officially will expire April 30, 2015. The trucks also have to get permits through the city, and have strict regulations on things like grease and garbage disposal.

The first permits will likely be ready by later this week and Jacksonville Beach could see the trucks setting up shop as early as next Monday.

Neighboring cities Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach still don't allow mobile food trucks.

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