You can find streets lined with food carts vendors in bigger cities like New York or Washington D.C. The mobile carts are a quick and easy meal alternative.
You will find one food cart in downtown York. That’s because there is only one food vendor license, which is given out by York City Council members, through a lottery system.
Recently legislation was introduced to add 12 more food carts to the downtown area. The idea, drew a lot of reaction, both positive and negative.
So, City Council members put the idea on hold. They have since formed a committee of people with interests on both sides of the spectrum. The committee will research the issue and come back with a proposal within a year.
The committee consists of members from organizations like Downtown INC., restaurant owners, market vendors, and more.
City Council VIce President Henry Nixon introduced the legislation. “I thought, it would create excitement, that it would diversity of food offerings,” said Nixon.
Nixon said he was surprised at how much reaction the idea got. Especially concerns. “People are concerned about the appearance. Sometimes food carts can get a little messy. The second big concern was among the fledgling restaurants and eating establishments, they were concerned that with such little investment these carts could provide a great deal of competition.
A number of restaurant owners have expressed frustration over the idea. Pat, the owner of Bistro 19 is concerned. “I pay an exorbitant amount of taxes. I mean there is taxes for everything in York. And I don’t mind, as long as I’m making the money. But if they’re going to let food vendors set up wherever they want to, and pull my lunch crowd away that I am trying to build, it’s just going to put me under.”
Darren Borodin owns the only food cart downtown. His stand DKMI Best Hotdogs sits in Continental Square. He won the lottery among several others back in 2011. He has held the sole mobile food cart license since then. “I grew up in New York. Always wanted to do my own hot dog stand. I got very curious when my kids came to town and I needed to take care of them and I needed control over my own hours,” said Borodin.
He said he is open-minded about other carts joining him downtown. “With the hope that it will bring new additional traffic to the area. Not necessarily to take away from existing brick and mortars or possibly myself,” said Borodin.
Jennifer Philippe has dreamt of bringing a different cuisine to the city, Crepes.
She entered the lottery for a food cart license back in 2011 but lost to Borodin. Since then she has showcased her business occasionally at events in York City. Her Business is called Sucre Sale. “It`s two French words, so Sucre is sweet and Sale is savory,” said Philippe.
Philippe said she isn’t ready to start a restaurant. She hopes to soon get the chance to have a place to park her food cart. “I had a little bit of training from a French chef and then I found a cart on Craigslist so I bought the cart hoping I would figure out a way to make it work,” said Philippe. But she hasn’t been able to use it yet. “It’s nerve-racking. Waiting is nerve-wracking. I feel my life is on hold,” said Philippe. She understands others’ concerns but she thinks it can work.
“If they lose business it will be a small percentage, and quite honestly I might be bringing more people downtown than were previously coming and eating the products that were being offered. I’m offering something new and different,” said Philippe.
Sonia Huntzinger, Executive Director of Downtown INC. is a member of the newly formed committee tasked at investigating the issue and coming up with a valid proposal. “We have a lot of different offerings and a variety in our inline stores, and the concern is the consumer base hasn’t caught up, said Huntzinger. “We need to make sure that we are addressing it in a fair and equitable manner that is going to support the growth of downtown.”