Avon town

Avon City Council split over allowing out-of-town food trucks in Avon

Currently, Rocky Mountain Taco – with its trailer between Avon Station and The Westin – is the only operator with an active vendor license to operate a food truck in town.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

In May 2020, Avon City Council amended a municipal ordinance limiting food trucks to those operated by an existing Avon restaurant or food supplier.

On Tuesday evening, the resolution passed again before city council, with city staff asking council members to take another look and consider allowing vendors outside of Avon. (This order does not apply to special events, during which the city allows food vendors in Nottingham Park.)

“I think we’ll have more success if we open it up,” said Danita Dempsey, the city’s culture, arts and special events manager.

Currently, Rocky Mountain Taco – with its trailer between Avon Station and The Westin – is the only operator with an active vendor license to operate a food truck in town. And while the business is local to the county, it’s not an Avon-based restaurant or food supplier. Instead, Dempsey said he was “opted out” of that restriction.

Since the council changed the ordinance, Dempsey added that only one Avon company had applied for and received a license to operate in the city. El Sabor Mazatlán, she said, applied for and received a permit to operate in the city. However, due to “staffing restrictions during the pandemic and/or equipment failures have actually only occurred a few times,” Dempsey said.

There was an additional Avon business that started the request but did not complete it amid pandemic-related challenges, she added.

Dempsey said the city received other calls and emails from other food trucks requesting an operation from Avon, none of which were based in the city and subsequently did not apply for permits.

By opening up the ability for outside sellers to obtain Avon permits, Dempsey said it could meet a demand from the community, referring to the 2021 Community Survey. In the survey, 48.7% of respondents said they wanted “more dining options in the park during the summer”.

However, the city council was split on whether opening permits to outside businesses was a good idea.

Board member RJ Andrade, who is also the general manager of local restaurant Agave, said he was “rather against it all, adding more food trucks”.

“It’s just a slap in the face for all the brick-and-mortar restaurants that have paid taxes and been through shoulder seasons and slow times and put in the time and effort,” Andrade said. “To just have these townspeople in and just take all the money from the park; I’m not a fan of that at all. »

Additionally, he said food trucks are “notoriously bad for the community” and have “a pretty sketchy track record” in terms of health and safety when not permanently installed in a location.

Council members Tamra Underwood and Amy Phillips both supported the position, with Underwood saying she felt the city had “a loyalty or obligation to our physical restaurants not to compete with them.”

Phillips said while she appreciates the intent of the change, she doesn’t think any changes should come this year to “give our brick and mortar another year to recover.”

“I don’t think now is the time to fly away,” Phillips said.

On the other hand, Council member Lindsay Hardy argued that the change could bring new options and vibrancy to the heart of the city, especially for Avon residents and workers.

“Why not take them to Avon?” It’s very inviting,” Hardy said. “From a land use perspective, it can really create community, especially around lunchtime.”

Hardy added that a number of restaurants in the city are not open until dinner time and “business people need a quick place to grab a bite to eat and walk to.”

“I will never say that we shouldn’t support our brick and mortar, but it also gives a little bit of competition,” she said, also adding that the order could perhaps institute shorter deadlines. for out-of-town permits. sellers.

Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes and council member Scott Prince also backed changing the ordinance to give it a chance. Prince and Smith Hymes – in addition to Underwood and Council member Chico Thuon – were on the council when the change was made and reiterated their support for local businesses.

“I voted for this when we passed it in 2020 and I fully respect the positions of local restaurants. I think what’s changed is there’s a lot more people in town now,” Prince said, adding that with the change, “I don’t see a bunch of food trucks coming in — that’s is hard to get here, for a food truck to get over the pass – I don’t see that as a hindrance for local businesses and if that becomes an issue a future council may change that. I’m willing to say, let’s give it a try and see what food trucks come in.

Smith Hymes said that because there wasn’t much buy-in from local restaurants, she wanted to “see how it goes on a limited basis.”

Regardless, all council members said the city needs to think about which locations vendors can get permits for.

“I don’t want them taking up parking spaces and I don’t want them in the immediate vicinity of our restaurants,” Smith Hymes said. “I think a truck that’s in close proximity to a truck that has the same type of fast food and at a similar price – that’s not fair. But, filling a food gap in a particular location won’t impact our brick-and-mortar.

With council split 3-3 on the issue – with seventh council member Thuon absent during the discussion – the council postponed discussion to a future meeting at which City Manager Eric Heil said staff could present additional ideas and options on the matter.