Jul 28, 2014
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Council Limits Could Keep Food Truck From Coming to Hopkins

A Minneapolis food truck operator wants to sell food in front of the Hopkins Tavern. Council members worry that could benefit one business at the expense of others.

Council Limits Could Keep Food Truck From Coming to Hopkins

A Minneapolis food truck operator wants to serve in Hopkins, but recommended limits on where the truck could park could halt the plan before it ever starts.

The unidentified food truck operator asked permission to sell food in front of the Hopkins Tavern on Main between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Fridays, Assistant City Manager Jim Genellie told the City Council on Tuesday.

The plan would be a mutually beneficial arrangement for the bar and food truck operator. The Tavern has an extensive beer and drink list, but its food is limited to appetizers and pizza. The food truck would be able to offer them something more substantial so they wouldn’t have to go elsewhere.

Councilman Jason Gadd said he was largely in favor of the proposal. He noted that the council had just finished discussing a possible brewpub ordinance and that other communities have found that food trucks and brewpubs are a great match.

But others weren’t so sure.

Mayor Gene Maxwell worried that allowing the truck to park right in front of the Hopkins Tavern would benefit one business—and possibly hurt nearby restaurants. He suggested that the truck park in the parking lot by Clock Tower Plaza, less than a block away from the Tavern, so that it would be focused on serving the entire community instead of a single business' customers.

Kersten Elverum, the city’s economic development and planning director, said that could potentially liven up the area around the Clock Tower, particularly if more food trucks decided to come in.

But the food truck operator who instigated the conversation isn’t so excited about the idea, Genellie said. City staff are meeting with him Monday, and he could decide to back off the idea.

Even if that happens, Hopkins will likely draw up some provisions for food trucks because of outdated language relating to food carts. The bulk of the ordinance no longer applies because Hennepin County, not Hopkins, does food inspections. While they’re reworking the food cart requirements, it’s a good time to insert rules for food trucks, Genellie said.

If the food truck operator does decide to set up shop in Hopkins, the city would likely not create an ordinance right away. Instead, it would set up a contract with the food truck operator—effectively leasing space on the street to the operator—as a test to determine the best procedures. If that test worked out, the city would then craft an ordinance that any food truck could use.

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