Mixed Reaction to Food Trucks in Downtown Battle Creek

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-02 18:31:11-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (July 2, 2014) – The City of Battle Creek will soon welcome food trucks about a block from the city center.

The move comes after a seven to two commission vote approving up to seven food trucks to be on Jackson St. between McCamly St. and Capital Ave. between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 a.m. Commissioners also decided to sunset the new ordinance, which means for the program to continue past December 2015, commissioners would need to vote again.

Some believe the decision will invigorate business downtown.

“We have said at least from the pro food truck camp, all along, there would probably not be an exodus of food trucks in Battle Creek taking over and stopping regular food business,” said Jeremy Andrews. “We’d be lucky to have a few.”

It’s a pilot program that will begin to take shape in 10 days when the ordinance goes into effect.

In the meantime, the city will accept applications from prospective vendors.

A food truck owner would have to pay a $30 monthly license fee and pass a health department inspection before setting up shop on Jackson St.

Not everyone is optimistic it can work.

“I’m not anti-food truck, but I’m not convinced that we have a broad enough downtown strategy to know where they fit and how they fit,” said Battle Creek Commissioner Mike Sherzer.

Sherzer and Jeff Domenico voted against the ordinance.

But Sherzerz says he would love for the program to be successful.

He also has concerns, including the food trucks’ potential impact on brick and mortar businesses, which he calls the foundation of the city.

“We’re gonna find out if it’s reasonable or not to have them,” Sherzer said. “If, as I’ve said, the unintended consequences of this whole thing could be an empty store front downtown. That’d be the worst case scenario.”

Others, like Andrews, believes this could give the city a much-needed boost.

“I hope that what we do is spur economic development in Battle Creek,” Andrews said. “I hope that what we have done is make people from the outside and people that live here see that there is opportunity; that we are a business-friendly community and we don’t want to create barriers for people to start businesses at all levels.”

FOX 17 reached out to Griffin Grill & Pub for comment, but the restaurant declined an on-camera interview.