When the coronavirus pandemic led to restrictions for indoor dining, the City of Grover Beach allowed food trucks to temporarily operate to help local restaurants. Now, this short-term COVID business relief idea may become permanent.
In March 2020, a Grover Beach events company called Epic Entertainment was left with no large gatherings like weddings and parties to coordinate.
To help make up for financial losses, Chris Bailey with Epic Entertainment told KCBX News, the city gave the green light for them to open their parking lot on West Grand Avenue to host food truck vendors.
“It’s a good chunk of our parking lot. We’ve set up a 20 by 20 tent, we put out tables and chairs," Bailey said. "We try to play some music to keep it lively, and we have some string lights that go over the trucks.”
Bailey said the food trucks, which operate Wednesdays through Sundays, have been a surprising success — generating half a million dollars in the first six months.
“People just are stoked," Bailey said. " Maybe they are scared a little bit to go inside a restaurant or they are slowly working their way into it. Or whatever the case may be, but they are pretty happy with what they are getting.”
But since the mobile food vendors, called GBeatz, operate under a temporary use permit, city Manager Matt Bronson said the city is now looking to make them a permanent fixture.
“Our intent is to expand and allow for additional food trucks over time," Bronson said. " Both on private property, as in the case of GBeatz, as well as on public right-0f-way, meaning city streets.”
While in some places — like San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston — brick-and-mortar restaurants have pushed regulations to prevent food trucks from operating due to competition, Bronson said that has not been the case for Grover Beach.
“We are mindful of making sure that we work with our restaurant community and food trucks to help increase dining options across the community," Bronson said. "A rising tide lifts all boats, and having more dining options brings in more foot traffic and enhances economic activity across the city.”
For now, the food trucks can continue under the temporary use permit. Bronson said a draft ordinance for permanent mobile food vendors and other mobile vendors will be presented and discussed in the fall.