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.
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.
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?