Local News

Food trucks lobby for downtown Raleigh access

Posted January 20, 2011 5:35 p.m. EST
Updated July 27, 2011 11:19 a.m. EDT

— Five months ago, Mike Stenke opened his own pizza place on wheels.

“Some people said it was really special,” Stenke said.

Named for his young son, Klausie’s Pizza operates out of a truck and sets up shop in different spots throughout the Triangle.

“This has now become our family’s dream,” he said.

But Stenke’s food truck can’t be found in downtown Raleigh because the traveling businesses are not allowed to park on city streets.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin chairs a committee looking into the food truck issue.

“We have gotten a lot of feedback from restaurant owners, and you’re right, they’re not happy,” Baldwin said Thursday.

Food truck owners, like Stenke, are lobbying to operate in the city, but some restaurant owners have concerns.

“To invest our dollars, pay our taxes to be in a prime location, it should be guarded for us by the city of Raleigh,” said Niall Hanley, who operates three restaurants in the Glenwood South neighborhood.

While he supports food trucks, Hanley said they inevitably would operate where there is a critical mass of people traffic at night, and that’s Glenwood South.

“Do we want a city of food trucks, or do we want a city of locally owned restaurants?” Hanley said.

Hanley compared his situation to a shopping mall, noting that there was no way a mall would let a competing food truck operate next to its tenants.

Stenke said while losing the Raleigh market has hurt, he won't let it impact the bottom line.

“For one thing, my son’s face is on the truck, and I’m not going to let a business with my son’s face go out of business,” Stenke said.

The food truck issue is expected to be discussed during a committee meeting next week.

A possible compromise could be allowing food trucks to operate in private parking lots, but Stenke said that is not what the food truck owners are asking for.