Food truck owners looking to cook for Carbondale’s crowds

You don’t have to go to a big city to find food trucks anymore. From barbecue to grilled cheese, food trucks are popping up all over the area. And, the food truck fad may hit Carbondale, Illinois, soon.

It’s not too often you’ll find Johnny B’s BBQ food truck sitting still. Owner John Bible is normally busy cooking and serving up barbeque around southern Illinois. Already operating in places like Vienna and Anna, he says he’s hoping to move to bigger crowds soon, like those in Carbondale.

"We’re more than willing to give it a shot," said Bible.

He’s not the only one. The guys running Say Cheese have been serving the foodie scene in West Frankfort for six months, and now they’re hoping to start serving in Carbondale —but not too close to the competition.

"We try and kind of seek out spots where there’s not a lot of competition or guys we’re going to take business away from," said Sean Hopkins, co-owner of Say Cheese. Hopkins operates the gourmet grilled cheese food truck with fellow co-owner Bob Whittington.

"Plenty of businesses are willing to work with us because we draw a crowd, so that would bring business and customers to their business as well. And we can work together," Bible said. He says he’s already found businesses willing to let him park at their business, so long as they don’t run the same hours.

But, in Carbondale, there’s no city ordinance for food trucks, only push carts. City officials say it leaves food truck owners with no other option than parking their truck on private property. 

"And a food truck, you think of mostly as parking on city streets, like parallel parking. And so, part of the goal is to look at the ordinance and see what we can do," said Carbondale City Council Member Adam Loos.

City officials say they plan to look at the ordinance soon to see if they can cook up a compromise to bring food trucks into town sometime in 2016.

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry says if they were to change the ordinance, it would actually bring food trucks back to town. Henry says in the 1960s, food trucks were a popular option, serving students on SIU campus.

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