Food truck possibilities in Paducah

Food trucks are increasing in popularity across the nation. Now, Paducah is considering allowing them in more areas.

Currently, food trucks or cart stands, like produce stands you might see in the spring and summer, can set up shop from the Paducah Ford area to Olivet Church Road on both sides of U.S. 60. They can also set up along Lone Oak Road from Interstate 24 to Bleich Road.

An Intuit study shows food trucks could generate $2.7 billion in revenue nationally by 2017. That’s up from $600 million in 2012.

Food trucks in Paducah could give us more quick options to eat and encourage others to try out their dreams of opening a restaurant on a smaller scale. Planning Director Steve Ervin says a food truck costs about $25,000 compared to a brick or mortar restaurant, which could cost about $300,000, according to the National Restaurant Association.
“Trying to find their niche in a market they would bring something different to the table, whether it be gourmet foods,” Ervin said.

During Tuesday’s city commission meeting, Ervin talked about how food trucks provide more places to eat in areas that might not have a lot of choices. Mayor Gayle Kaler said she liked the idea.

“It’s a good way to show that we are interested in something different here in Paducah. Young people, they love the food trucks. They’re great for festivals," Kaler said.

Ervin says they can also generate energy and bring more people out in the community

Negatives Ervin pointed out about food trucks are trash, noise and maintenance, along with allowing food trucks in areas that would be competing with existing restaurants.

Freight House Restaurant owner and chef Sara Bradley welcomes the idea of food trucks in Paducah.

“Anything that is going to bring tourists to downtown Paducah is going to be good for my restaurant. So, if that means someone else has a food truck near me, that’s fine by me. You know, we compete with restaurants that are right next to us every day,” Bradley said.

Bradley lived in areas with food trucks before and says likes them.

“It creates this whole culture and this whole sense of community, and I think it’s a really nice idea for downtown. It’s going to help with small businesses. You know, income taxes will be paid. That 2 percent income tax will be paid into the city. There’s a lot of things that are beneficial, to just bring more people downtown and bring people from other cities here,” Bradley said.

Ultimately, it’s up to the commissioners to decide. Based on the reactions of commissioners in meeting, they’re open to researching the idea some more before drafting an ordinance.

Commissioners want to find answers to questions like how to define what would constitute a food truck in Paducah, how many hours they can operate, or how close they should allow them to other restaurants, ?types of items to be sold, how to address the truck upkeep and maintenance, and how to review and permit the trucks.

Paducah’s planning director will be checking with other cities like Owensboro on how they handle food trucks.

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