By Haddon Libby
On June 25th, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors initiated the revision of Ordinance No. 580 which restricts the usage of mobile food trucks in Riverside County.
Riverside County is the only county in the State of California that does not allow for the daily operation of food trucks. What the ‘initiation of revision’ means is that staff to the Board of Supervisors will begin working with all constituent groups and regulatory bodies to formulate a workable plan that lifts many of the restrictions limiting food truck activity in the county.
At present, the ordinance limits the operation of most mobile trucks to prepackaged foods only. Once passed, the amendment is expected to allow each city in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Health to regulate how food trucks will operate in their cities.
In recognition of the vote initiating the revision, a free Food Truck Festival operated outside of the Supervisors’ Chambers in Riverside as the vote was taken. Well over 1,000 attendees came out in support of the ordinance and these mobile eateries.
Actively supported by Supervisor Jeffries, our local Supervisor John Benoit has expressed skepticism toward the lifting of restrictions on food trucks.
Among food trucks at the rally were The Grilled Cheese Truck. Its operator, Michele Grant, has grown her company to three trucks since starting four years ago. Initially operating out of a shared kitchen commissary in Los Angeles, Grant now operates from her own brick and mortar facility in Pasadena. Each truck that she operates has resulted in nine new jobs.
Also at the event was Suite 106 Cupcakery which recently acquired a brick and mortar location in Rancho Cucamonga due to the success of their mobile operations. They have also been featured on “Cupcake Wars” on the Food Channel.
Cousins Maine Lobster also started as a food truck only and now has a brick and mortar location in Pasadena. At the Festival, they expressed an interest in launching a truck in Riverside County as soon as the ban is lifted.
Many restaurants operate food trucks for mobile marketing as well as another way to create revenues and expose people in different geographic areas to their culinary creations.
People often start with food trucks as the cost of entry is lower. Myra Munoz of food truck builder, California Cart Builder, stated that prices on custom food trucks start in the $65,000 to $85,000 range for a 15’ foot food truck. She was certain that the lifting of the ban would result in more jobs in Riverside County as well as at her facility in Lake Elsinore. California Cart Builder is one of four approved food truck builders in the state that can build trucks for Riverside County.
Long gone are the days of the roach coaches as these mobile state-of-the-art commercial kitchens take the center stage. Tuesday’s vote gives great hope to aspiring culinary entrepreneurs in Riverside County. Thank you to the Riverside Board of Supervisors for showing their support.