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Food

Greensburg lifts limits on meals vans, hopes extra enterprise rolls into metropolis

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About an hour in the past

Speal’s on Wheels was one of many first meals vans to function in Greensburg, with proprietor Terry Speal serving late-night grub to varsity crowds within the metropolis since 2016.

Excessive registration charges and restricted hours saved most meals truck operators out, however that simply meant much less competitors for Speal.

“The outdated rules labored out for me, as a result of no one needed to pay that charge, so I used to be doing OK,” he stated. “I feel I used to be the one one on the town.”

Metropolis officers hoped extra meals vans would come, however most averted Greensburg, plying their commerce in less-restrictive communities.

“We didn’t get the amount that we thought we’d,” stated metropolis councilman Randy Finfrock.

That’s why council this week up to date its meals truck ordinance, eradicating most of the strict guidelines which were in place since 2016.

“We needed to alter the ordinance to make it simpler for meals vans to arrange in our downtown space,” stated councilman Gregory Mertz.

The 2016 ordinance restricted vans working on metropolis streets to between 10:30 p.m. and three a.m., and mandated these working on non-public property be a minimum of 500 ft from brick-and-mortar eating places — which primarily banned vans from many of the metropolis.

Meals vans should now arrange a minimum of 100 ft from an present restaurant.

The brand new ordinance permits meals vans to function on metropolis streets for as much as eight hours at a time, aside from sure in a single day and early morning hours.

“At 10 o’clock at evening, you’re not bringing folks into downtown Greensburg for some type of competition, or a meals truck setup,” Mertz stated.

Town had an annual registration charge of $1,200, although it was lower by half final yr.

The ordinance lower the annual registration charge once more, this time to $400. It retains the $35 single-day allow launched final yr, in addition to permits for farmers markets and different particular occasions.

Council members agreed on most facets of the brand new ordinance, however the distance limits led to extended debate. Some members needed to permit meals vans anyplace, whereas others apprehensive they might threaten conventional eating places.

In the long run, council put two variations of the ordinance up for a vote Monday. One set the minimal distance at 100 ft, the opposite at 200.

The shorter restrict handed 3-2, with Mayor Robert Bell and councilwoman Cheryl Lennert opposed.

“We each had gone out and talked to a number of the brick-and-mortar homeowners, and, primarily based on their suggestions, we felt our vote in opposition to the 100-foot restriction won’t have been the favored place, however, we felt it was the correct place to take at this cut-off date,” Bell stated in an e mail.

Regardless of disagreeing with the gap restrict, Bell stated he’s in any other case pleased with the ordinance.

“I’m hoping that we are able to entice meals vans, and finally, the meals vans will convey extra folks into the downtown enterprise district by providing extra eating choices,” he stated.

Finfrock stated he thinks meals vans and eating places aren’t direct opponents.

“Whereas they’re associated to eating places, they actually don’t have the identical clientele,” he stated.

The looser restrictions will make the financial pie larger, not power competitors over the identical slice, he stated.

Analysis agency IBISWorld discovered that the $1 billion meals truck trade in the US final yr had practically 24,000 vans nationwide, with a key goal market of middle-class millennial, in keeping with the Small Enterprise Improvement Middle. Some 43% of enterprise comes from folks between the ages of 24 and 44, with lower than 20% coming from these beneath 25 (19.7%), ages 45 to 54 (17.7%) and 55 or older (19.2%).

Key goal market segments are also energetic social media customers, researchers discovered.

By comparability, the greater than 1 million restaurant areas in the US final yr had been predicted to generate round $863 billion in income, in keeping with the Nationwide Restaurant Affiliation. In Pennsylvania, that features greater than 26,000 consuming and ingesting areas that generate an estimated $24 billion in annual income, in keeping with the most recent figures out there from the Washington, D.C.-based commerce group.

Council might revisit Greensburg’s meals truck ordinance once more if vital, Finfrock stated.

“We need to evolve, we need to adapt and we need to change,” he stated. “Simply because that is the ordinance right now doesn’t imply it will likely be the ordinance subsequent yr.”

Speal stated he welcomes the brand new guidelines, even when it would imply extra competitors.

“It’s good to see that they’re going to make some leeway, open it up just a little bit,” he stated. “We’ll see if different vans will are available although.”

He thinks the $400 charge would possibly nonetheless preserve many meals vans away.

“They get scared at ($1,200), they may nonetheless be afraid of it,” he stated.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Overview employees author. You possibly can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, jtierney@triblive.com or through Twitter .

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