Truckin’ along: Food trucks could come to downtown Marietta
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
July 17, 2011 12:02 AM | 8807 views | 15 15 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Greg Smith, president of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition; Cassandra Buckalew, owner of the Marietta Trolley Company; and Matt Teague, development director at Walton Communities in Marietta; stand outside the Tex’s Taco food truck at Street Food Thursdays at The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.<br>Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan
Greg Smith, president of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition; Cassandra Buckalew, owner of the Marietta Trolley Company; and Matt Teague, development director at Walton Communities in Marietta; stand outside the Tex’s Taco food truck at Street Food Thursdays at The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan
slideshow
People buy ice cream from the Westside Creamery food truck at Street Food Thursdays at The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
People buy ice cream from the Westside Creamery food truck at Street Food Thursdays at The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
slideshow
MARIETTA — One of the nation’s trendiest foodie events could soon be coming to downtown Marietta.

Cassandra Buckalew, who owns the Marietta Trolley Company with her husband, Brian, has made it her mission to bring the popular food trucks that have swept Atlanta in the past year to the vacant parking lot of the underdeveloped Meeting Place complex on Roswell Street, just off the Marietta Square.

“I’ve been to a few of the food truck events in Atlanta, and to me, they’re this unique, mini-traveling culinary experience that begs to be explored,” Buckalew said. “Every truck is unique in its personality and food, and it’s all really gourmet, incredible food. A weekly event like this would bring an intown vibe to Marietta, and would bring together that kind of foodie-friendly group. I just think it would be a really great event.”

Buckalew said she is not being paid, nor will she be seeking any money for her efforts.

The food truck craze first came to the Atlanta area in March 2010, Atlanta Street Food Coalition President Greg Smith said, and has grown from meeting once a week at the Sweet Auburn Market in downtown Atlanta to making stops in over six areas of the city as well as other festivals and foodie events. Smith said there are nearly 30 trucks in the coalition now, though he said there are usually no more than 12 at an event.

Foods offered from the different vendors range from authentic Mexican tacos to organic hot dogs to Cajun po’boys. The concept lends itself to a very open-air, sociable environment, as people try foods from various trucks set up in the same location. Smith himself is co-owner of the Westside Creamery food truck, which sells quirky flavors of tasty and unique ice cream.

Smith said the coalition requires anyone operating a food truck at one of its events to have a commercial kitchen and each truck is inspected by members of the coalition for safety and quality. He said he and other members eventually want every truck to be fully permitted and given the opportunity to pass a health inspection with a written score.

Buckalew reached out to Walton Communities Development Director Matt Teague in June to talk to him about having the event on the Meeting Place lot, which his company owns, every Monday during lunchtime. Teague said he and the company thought it was a great idea, and with no immediate plans for further development of the complex, jumped at the chance to host a weekly food trucks gathering on the property.

“We really just think food trucks are one small way we can engage the community and bring more people together,” Teague said. “It’s a different and unique way for people to dine, and it’s very walkable no matter where they go. It’s almost like a food festival held every day in a different spot.”

But the food trucks business is a tough one to operate and get started from a permitting and licensing standpoint.

“In Atlanta, you have to get a permit from the Fulton Health Department, a vending license from Atlanta police and a business license from the folks at City Hall,” Smith said. “Then there are further restrictions on where you can operate. And there’s a whole new and different set of requirements if you want to take your truck to Marietta. You have to get a permit from the Cobb County Health Department, a business license from the city, and just different offices you have to stop in and maintain permits with. It can be difficult to understand, so the job of the coalition is to figure out what these processes are and help to streamline them.”

Additionally, Marietta Zoning Manager Rusty Roth said the event would have to be approved by the Marietta City Council to operate, as the current zoning for the meeting place property does not have stipulations that would allow for the event to take place on the property.

Roth said Buckalew would simply have to write a letter to his office with a Walton Communities representative’s signature, requesting the City Council amend the property’s zoning so that the event can take place. At that point, it would take about a month to get before the City Council, Roth said.

Buckalew said she has been urged by the city’s economic development department to wait until all of the department’s permitting and licensing questions have been answered before writing the letter. As soon as they have their questions answered, however, Buckalew said the letter would be written and sent.

Councilman Johnny Sinclair said he had not yet viewed all of the details of Buckalew’s proposal, but that he is definitely on board with bringing food trucks to the downtown area.

“I absolutely love the idea,” Sinclair said. “It sounds like a really novel and unique idea. We want to continue to make the Marietta Square a destination for innovative dining and entertaining, so this would fit perfectly and it would be good for the whole Square. There are people who follow those things so it would bring a lot of new people to the area, but would also be great for the people of Marietta to enjoy.”
Comments
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Cha-Cha Bake
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January 31, 2013
WOW!! How exciting. I have been researching and praying for something to hit Marietta, Kennesaw and surrounding areas with something like this. You only find this type of events in the inner city. I am working hard to get my truck to join this event.

All the negativity must go. These type of business work hard and have to pass alot of inspections to even be able to operate so if you don't like it that is fine but please don't be so negative about trying something new.

I see great things in the future of this event and I want to be apart of it.

real problem?
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January 12, 2013
Everyone that thinks it's a "bad" idea, is ignorantly confused, and...as a group, y'all are holding the entire country back. Folks (in other countries) have been selling food on the street for forever! Ppl that are scared it's unhealthy, or they'll get sick...should just eat at home!! Lots of restaurants are regulated, and it doesn't mean they're not filthy!

Small operations are safer. Fewer hands involved, and owner-operators that CARE more than warm bodied employees. If you're scared...you're scared. The government isn't going to cure that; only fuel it.

The article above is just propaganda for more regulation. I don't agree with it all. This isn't a really difficult situation, for progressive ppl of intelligence to work out.
Heatmiser2012
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October 14, 2012
@Travshe, TJ's in West Cobb would be nice. I've talked to their upper management and they said the stores they have built here are not performing up to their expectations, compared to other cities. They do not plan on opening any new stores in Metro Atlanta until business improves in their current locations.
Not So Bummed
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October 23, 2011
Bob Bummer, no, "we the people" didn't decide anything of the sort. Some of us think Metro Atlanta's ridiculously complicated regulations are limiting the number of new food businesses that can be started by entrepreneurs.

Why do you think other cities like Portland, San Fran, Austin etc. are way ahead of Atlanta?

Atlanta makes it easy for BIG BUSINESS only, NOT the little guy! But I'm betting that's perfectly fine with you, you probably think Applebee's is an inventive, daring food experience.
Gimme a Break
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July 22, 2011
Geez Marietta. Lighten up a bit. Give it a try, see how it works. You have a farmer's market. Is it regulated? Is the produce inspected? How about all the festivals? You really think all those food stands operate up to sanitary conditions?

I am certain these food trucks work to maintain a clean working space. One incident of bad food, and most likely, they are toast.
doubting Thomas
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July 20, 2011
Much more needs to be known about this before everyone jumps on board.

Do these trucks meet the same health standards as the restaurants on the square do?

Do you really not care if your food is safe?

Do these trucks pay the same licenses and fees that the existing, fixed food businesses do?

Do they even pay sales tax? One final question - in order to be sanitary the staff of these trucks must be able to wash their hands frequently. That requires considerable quantities of water. Additional water is needed for processing food and cleaning up after. Assuming (Praying) these trucks have large clean water holding tanks, and used water holding tanks, where are they dumping their used water? Who regulates this to make sure they aren't freely dumping on the side of the road someplace?

I'm doubting these questions have been fully answered....
Doubting Tom
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July 21, 2012
Dear Mr Negative

Yes these and many other questions have been answered. I own 2 brick and mortar restaurants and I am opening a food truck as well.

YES the food trucks are regulated and are inspected on a regular basis and receive a grade.

YES as a business owner I believe we all care if the food is safe!

YES tax is payed based on the tax requirements for that municipality.

YES licenses and fees are payed

YES food trucks are required to have both fresh water as well as waste water holding tanks additionally hot water heaters.

For complaining, why don't you do some research before opening your keyboard and spewing negativity!!!!
worker on the square
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July 20, 2011
I think it is a good idea to have some differnt choices to eat on the square. You don't always have time to sit down for 1 hour for lunch. Most of us that work on the Square only get 30 mins. So, it will be nice to have some differnt choices other than a sit down meal.
KSUAlum
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July 19, 2011
Finally an opportunity to have some decent food on the square.
anonymous
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July 19, 2011
Ask Tommy. He was here first. Does he still own that place? Haven't been down to the square for years.

Smells too funky.
Bob Bummer
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July 18, 2011
It is difficult to do health inspections and such on a mobile restaurant. I for one want the place to be inspected so I know that it is safe. I am also concerned with putting local eateries out of business. Do we also want to continue to encourage the hurried eat on the go lifestyle?
kitcatta
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July 18, 2011
People - get over yourselves! Food trucks are booming all over the U.S. and they're a huge hit in Atlanta. It would be fun to have some new food on the Square and probably increase business for the retails shops--and as for competing with the local restaurants, if they can't compete, they need to up their game! Overall the restaurants on the Square could use a good kick in the pants anyway (are you listening, Shillings?) so that those of us that want a fine meal don't have to always go to Atlanta....
Travshe
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July 17, 2011
Great idea..Marietta would fully support this idea IF the food is good. I travel a lot and food trucks are a great way to try different foods while providing a metropolitan feel to the square. Can't wait to hear more..now let's just get a Trader Joe's on Whitlock and we'll be moving the city in the right direction!

irked
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July 17, 2011
This is a seriously bad idea.

If you go anywhere in California not within 100 miles of the Pacific, you'll learn that many municipalities are trying to get rid of these things because of the threat they pose to existing businesses.

The sexy picture has gourmet food in an al-fresco environment.

The reality is fast and cheap food so fresh that it tastes like it just fell off the harvesting truck that very morning.

Hopefully, this idea won't catch on so fast among the "hip" crowd that the grumpy grown-ups won't be shouted down.
Bob Bummer
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July 17, 2011
aka Roach Coaches. Use your brain the reason the permit processed isn't streamlined is because we the people decided years ago that we don't want Roach Coaches. Infact the permit process should be more complicated than it is now to prevent someone from operating one.
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