Local News

Food truck debate rolls into Chapel Hill

Posted October 17, 2011 4:50 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2011 7:05 p.m. EDT

— Two weeks after rules went into effect allowing food trucks to operate in downtown Raleigh, the Chapel Hill Town Council is considering similar regulations.

Under a proposed ordinance up for a public hearing Monday night at Town Hall, food trucks would be allowed to serve from private lots in Chapel Hill as long as both the truck operator and lot owner had a town permit. Also, the truck would have to be more than 100 feet from any open restaurant.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he believes the Town Council is open to food trucks but that various interests need to be balanced.

"There is a whole array (of issues) when it comes to health and safety, as well as taxation and the impact on existing businesses," Kleinschmidt said. "We are really proud of our food culture, and the food truck phenomenon is certainly of interest to many of us."

Brian Bottger, owner of Only Burger in Durham, said business from his food trucks has been so sizzling that he opened a restaurant in Durham. Still, he is always looking for new locations for his trucks, and he said Chapel Hill would be appetizing.

"It's another market. You know we are in the business to sell burgers," Bottger said.

He said he fears that permitting by location in Chapel Hill could be burdensome because trucks need flexibility in finding locations that work. Only Burger tries to pick locations like Morrisville office parks where there is no restaurant close by.

"The reality is, the truck is not a restaurant and is not trying to compete with restaurants," he said.

The Town Council isn't expected to vote on the proposed ordinance until next year.