Columbus considers changing food trucks, cart hours

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus food cart and truck owners are unhappy about proposed legislation being considered by the city which, if approved, would change the hours mobile food vendors can operate.

Police and city leaders said the change was about safety, but food cart owners said they were not the problem.

“Because of a small population of people making poor choices and choosing to handle themselves poorly, the city has chosen to shift blame on parties that really do come in peace,” said Adam Wallace, owner of Adam’s Eden and Feed the Need LLC.

The proposed legislation would largely affect the food carts that operate in the Short North. On Tuesday, the city held its second public hearing on the topic, with at least one more planned.

“This is life-changing. The cost of the equipment, the whole business would be worthless if they approved this legislation to close at 2 am,” Wallace said.

Wallace owns two food trucks and four food carts. The carts can be found in the Short North on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Right now, mobile food vendors need to be closed by 3 am The proposed legislation being considered by the city would change that to 2 am

“I think there’s more to the discussion,” said Columbus Council member Emmanuel Remy, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee. “This isn’t the final hour we’re going to consider at this point. We need to look at other things, what the safety plan is for the area, certainly what type of limitations we put on where they can operate, those types of things beyond just what an hour is established at.”

City leaders say it’s a safety issue. According to Remy, one of the biggest problems is when bars close, large groups gather outside, sometimes leading to violence. Remy and Columbus Police Deputy Chief Smith Weir said the proposal would help cut down on the congregating.

“Food carts and violence do not go hand in hand and decades of peaceful operation cannot be overlooked or undone by the actions of a few,” Wallace said.

According to Wallace and other food cart owners, if they lose the hour, they’d lose 80 percent of their business, adding the proposed legislation unfairly targets them.

“We’re not trying to hurt people’s business, but we certainly want to make sure we’re creating a safety plan that works best for an area like the Short North,” Remy said.

Six community members spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing: three in favor of the legislation and three, including Wallace, against it.

Remy said the earliest a vote would take place on the proposed change is late January.