Food truck vendors want more parking in downtown

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COLUMBIA – Food truck owners have contacted the Downtown Community Improvement District to increase parking options for restaurants on wheels.

Food truck vendors currently have three parking spots available to them in the District. The locations include spots on Walnut Street, Ninth Street and Cherry Street. George Nickols, owner of the Lilly’s Cantina food truck, said he has worked closely the Downtown Community Improvement District and other food truck vendors to push the issue to the city council.

“What were trying to do as food truck owners is, expand those parking locations to get more parking to free us up to where we can go and service more of the district,” Nickols said. “Myself and Ozark Mountain Biscuit have been working with CID closely since April to try to get the wheels in motion to push this to city council.”

There are five food trucks currently listed on Roaming Hunger’s website. With only three available parking locations, food trucks often find difficulty coordinating spot availability and usage.

“We try to look at each other with social media, but there are always mix-ups, sometimes,” Nickols added. “We do need more spots so that sort of thing doesn’t happen.”

Wheels have, in fact, begun turning on the potential move. Katie Essing, executive director of the Downtown Community Improvement District, met last Tuesday with Nickols and a fellow vendor.

“We’ve been talking about the food truck issues for about a month now,” Essing said. “We would potentially make a recommendation to the mayor and the city council… ultimately it’s a city council decision.”

Essing added that the next phase includes talking to restaurant owners regarding the potential move. Food truck vendors and the Mid-Missouri Restaurant Association will participate in the process as well.

Overall, Nickols sees this as an opportunity for everyone to receive positive feedback. He said he does not, however, want to step on anybody’s toes in the process.

“It’s a win-win situation in a lot of ways that we expand our horizons as far as parking goes,” Nickols said. “We want to try to be cognizant of the restaurant owners and people with needs other than ours.”

The process is rolling, but multiple steps still need to be taken before any potential city code change is brought to city council.