Food trucks facing obstacles in Norfolk

Posted at 5:41 PM, May 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-25 20:55:40-04

Evan Harrell wants his food truck “The Hub Cap Grill” on Granby Street.

"They gave me this kind of, you can go here, here and here but not here and I ended up in this parking lot in West Ghent,” says Evan.

For more than 20 years, a city ordinance has put the brakes on food trucks rolling into Downtown Norfolk. Their main opponent is restaurants who see them as competition.

"We serve a completely different demographic," says Evan. "The people who want to go sit down are always going to go to a restaurant and I'd be really silly to think that someone's going to sit at my truck every day. So I'm just adding more variety."

He's teamed up with businesses like the Birch Bar in West Ghent to help them reach more customers, but he knows if he were allowed Downtown, he'd feed a lot more people and make a lot more money.

For food trucks, foot traffic is everything and Granby Street has that.

Twisted Sisters Cupcakes does a good business setting up in parking lots across Hampton Roads, but not being able to go Downtown has the Twisted Sisters bent.

Peter Freda used to run a food truck and now he owns Granby Street Pizza.

He's not against trucks, but he worries they could take his customers.

"You can't just have a bunch of trucks run all over the place just parking on the street in front of your business," says Peter.

For Norfolk's city planner Frank Duke, getting food on wheels Downtown isn't a matter of food trucks versus restaurants to him, but something else.

"No one likes changes, everyone likes things the way they are," says Duke. "You get the younger crowd, and they're looking for the food vendors, they're looking for these kind of opportunities. And the older group is a little more cautious."

Duke says getting restaurants, food trucks, and the city talking will help change the law.

Harrell knows the success of the Hub Cap Grill will help spur that.

He just doesn't want to wait much longer.