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Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance Draft Almost Complete

Food trucks. It's buzzing across the country in larger cities and it could be coming -- to a streetside near you.
Food truck fish tacos made by Restaurant Sage. (KTVE/KARD)
Food truck fish tacos made by Restaurant Sage. (KTVE/KARD)
Meat on a stick food truck bites from Restaurant Sage. (KTVE/KARD)
Meat on a stick food truck bites from Restaurant Sage. (KTVE/KARD)
UPDATE 2/19:

Councilman Ray Armstrong said on Wednesday that the mobile food vendor ordinance he has been working on is almost complete.

He said they are making the final tweaks and are making sure it meets requirements with the state.

Armstrong said it should be ready to present to the council in two weeks, and will most likely be on the agenda for the first city council meeting in March.

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MONROE -- Food trucks. It's buzzing across the country in larger cities and it could be coming -- to a streetside near you.

But what do you think about the mobile food vendors coming to Monroe?

With enough support, they could become a trend in the area with the help of one city councilman.

"This is something that will be economically viable for our city, and culinarily speaking, it'll be huge," said Mark Smith of Restaurant Sage.

Monroe city councilman Ray Armstrong is working on an ordinance.

"We did extensive research into what other cities do," he said.

Allowing several mobile food vendors -- like food trucks, trailers, and even carts -- to set up shop for events, or even just daily for lunch in particular parts of the city..

"There's state regulations that need to be considered," said Armstrong. "It's highly regulated so it won't be intrusive to residences, the noise ordinances certainly need to be followed."

The city attorney has drafted an ordinance modeled from one in New Orleans.

"This is in the final planning stages," said Armstrong. "We've made several changes to that already with the input from the community, and we welcome input."

Several restaurant owners are jumping on board with the idea.

"I spent over a decade in Cincinnati where they had food trucks available all over the city," said Smith.

Smith said mobile food vendors give restaurants a chance to show off the perfect bite they've worked really hard to perfect.

"There's some case studies on New Orleans and Austin, and when you see a town with a good food truck it just means that people are moving in, or that the town is growing, and I think that will be a huge piece of this here in Monroe," said Smith.

Mario Matas, owner of Avocado's in Monroe, said where he's from in Mexico, it's all about food trucks.

"They have the morning tacos and the night tacos, it's very traditional, you're eating outside or taking it home," he said. 

Matas said Monroe is one of the last few cities in the state not taking part in the mobile food craze.

"Louisiana is okay with it, Monroe just needs to look over and see if they're okay with it."

"Perfect little bites is really what the food truck is all about," said Smith. "It's an ability for folks to reach out to restaurants who may not even know they're there."

Before any moves can be made, they have to look at details like food safety, licensing, traffic flow and avoiding conflict with nearby restaurants.

"There are certain restrictions written into the ordinance on where they can go and where they cannot go," Armstong said.

He's says response has been mostly positive.

"I've been very pleased with the response from the community," said Armstrong. "They want to get involved, they want to see other exciting things happening in Monroe and this is just one opportunity to bring something else to Monroe. I see opportunities, see maybe going out to the zoo, or Forsythe park or somewhere around the airport and have 10 or 15 mobile food vendors, put tent up and have a party."

"The culture and experience would be a big part of it," said Monroe resident Micheal Murray. "To be a construction worker, you get off for lunch, food truck sitting there, waste no money...no gas."

Some like West Monroe Monroe resident Kim Parker, who works in Monroe, are worried about the traffic congestion a congregation of mobile food vendors may cause.

"I don't know if we're there yet, we're still kind of small," said Parker. "We're evolving Monroe, I think it would be fun, something new different, if it works, it works, if it doesn't it doesn't."

Armstrong says he hopes to have the ordinance ironed out and ready to go before the city council in a few weeks.
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