Food Trucks Feast On Uneven Playing Field

Most Westporters are familiar with Joey’s by the Shore — the great deli/burger/ice cream spot that replaced Elvira’s near Old Mill Beach — and Hook’d, the Compo concessionaire that has taken over from (yes) Joey’s.

We’re familiar too with trucks that serve coffee and snacks to construction crews, along with fuller-service food trucks, and others specializing in ice cream.

An “06880” reader was thinking about all of that the other day. He put 2 + 2 together.

It did not compute.

He watched in surprise as a truck parked, blocking Joey’s few parking spaces on Compo Hill. A customer who had been about to enter the store turned, and ordered instead from the truck.

It wasn’t just market supply and demand, the “06880” reader realized. It’s that the market playing field is not level.

A hard-working businessman. But not a direct taxpayer in town.

Joey’s owners pay property taxes. Joey pays rent. Hook’d has an expensive contract with the town.

Food truck owners are supposed to pay $35, for an annual Westport Weston Health District license. They are not allowed to operate on town-owned property (including Compo Beach or Soundview Drive, Longshore, Little League fields, and at or near functions like Slice of Saugatuck and the Yankee Doodle Fair).

Food trucks may also not operate “on the main traveled portion of any public roadway, interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or remain stationary for an extended period of time.”

Of course, they do.

Food trucks — including the popular Good Humor man — are supposed to be prohibited from selling on Soundview Drive.

Intrigued by the “06880” reader’s email, I asked the WWHD how many food trucks are actually licensed by the town.

There are 11: Alene’s Ice Cream, Alley Kat Pizza, Aramark Business Dining, Bee’s Knees Ice Pops, Bubble & Brew,  Christopher’s Crepes, Parlor Wilton Pizza, Skip’s Ice Cream, Super Duper Weenie, The Granola Bar and Walrus & Carpenter.

Not a coffee truck among them.

Food trucks serve hungry construction workers, for sure. Their owners are hard workers, trying to make a living.

But owners of Joey’s and Hook’d — and other places around town, like the Porch @ Christie’s and The Country Store Deli on Wilton Road — must wonder: What would happen if I operated without a license or permit too?

12 responses to “Food Trucks Feast On Uneven Playing Field

  1. Good cstch Dan, I think most Westporter’s would agree.

    This sounds like an enforcement issue our great Town police should help with. When on their patrol routes they should make it a point to inform food truck operators where they should not be operating at and verify they have current proper Town licenses. Improper or illegal parking could be handled at the same drive by stops.

  2. Chip Stephens. SHS 73

    Stop the madness !
    Who doesn’t smile and reminisce hearing the Good Humor bells
    The cheap food trucks that serve silage coffee serve the hard working class that build the McMansions
    And many residents pay for the pizza, seafood and other high end trucks at the beach and their homes
    Really ?

    • Jack (Toasted Almond) Backiel

      Chip, I remember Ray, the Good Humor man. He’d pull into the golf range parking lot around 8:30 pm and get mobbed.

    • James Waldron

      Just think how busy the food trucks will be once Hiawatha Lane construction begins 🙂

  3. John Hartwell

    Great local reporting, Dan! This is what used to appear in local newspapers before they all went bust. Well done.

  4. While I would agree it is totally inappropriate for a food truck to park outside of a tax paying establishment in Westport for all of the reasons stated in the above, I think there are some other talking points being missed here. Food trucks, especially those that serve construction sites, are filling a need likely not met by some of our local stores. What if construction crews cannot leave a site to grab a coffee or lunch? What if they don’t have access to a vehicle? Maybe the price point in a store is more than they can afford? And now we are going to pick on the Good Humor truck? Really Westport? Please tell me that we are not reduced to policing these small businesses. Haven’t we already chased away enough of the small businesses in this town? I have an idea, how about letting the food trucks into Compo Beach periodically, on pre scheduled days during the “off season” when the concessions are closed. Then the town would be picking up additional revenue in permits/parking spot rentals and we could all enjoy a little diversity.

  5. MICHAEL CALISE

    Everybody needs the opportunity to make a buck! unless of course you are a friend of uncle Joe!

  6. Hopefully an owner of a food truck will read this and come down to the Longshore golf course in the morning so golfers will be able to get a coffee and egg sandwich or bagel or any breakfast food, Longshore is the only golf course in the country that doesn’t have a breakfast facility for golfers, and don’t tell me about the halfway house, they are a joke, some bring your food truck to Longshore and make some money

  7. The Westport-Weston Health District would be the enforcers of food licenses. It’s not really the domain of the PD.

  8. debbieomalley

    The one in the top picture is always visiting construction sites in our neighborhood, and I am always amused that he likes to frequent our “aerea”

  9. Dick Lowenstein

    Without some regulation, will the Compo Beach “aerea” start to look a bit like the Long Wharf exit on north-bound I-95?

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