Information on the Atlanta Food Truck Ordinance

Dear ASFC Community,

This has truly been a great week for food trucks in the City of Atlanta.  On Tuesday afternoon, we got the news that the City Council passed a new set of rules pertaining to food trucks in the city by a vote of 15-0. Then on Thursday, we followed up the City Council victory with the unveiling of a new “Street Food Thursday” lot at 12th and Peachtree St. – the opening of the new lot featured an appearance by the man himself, Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall (if you haven’t had a chance to thank Kwanza and his staff for their work on this legislation – please consider sending a quick facebook message or tweet their way).

Regarding the new rules for food trucks in Atlanta, it will have an effect on the industry in the following ways:

Multiple Locations:  Prior to the amendment, the city code used singular language when referring to a location of operation; due to that language, the Atlanta Police Department (issuer of city Vendor Licenses) would not permit a truck to operate in multiple locations.  With the new amendments in place, the code now expressly states that mobile food units may be permitted for “multiple locations” – allowing mobile units to be truly mobile.

Reduced Buffer Zone:  In the previous version of the code, mobile units were not allowed to operate within 1,500 feet of a permanent business selling the same or similar products as the mobile unit.  That “buffer zone” is now reduced to just 200 feet.

It is important to recognize that a couple of things have not changed at this point.  (1) Vending on public property within City limits is still a difficult, if not impossible, proposition; it is best to focus your efforts on identifying pieces of private property with strong sales potential and seeking permission from the owner to set up your unit there.  (2) It is still mandatory that potential vendors go through the food service permitting process at Fulton County Environmental Health prior to seeking a vendor license from the City.

Now that this legislation is in place, I expect that the food truck industry will really start to boom in Atlanta.  With all of the exuberance that is on the way – please remember to be a good citizen and good member of the larger community around us.  It is required and expected that new and old vendors will: 1) arrange for and maintain the proper permits, 2) collect and pay sales tax, and 3) leave your vending location cleaner than you found it.

Additionally, I think it is important for our industry to raise the bar and seek to meet the following challenges: 1) collaborate, cooperate, and communicate with local businesses that might be affected by the presence of food trucks, 2) hire locally and pay a decent wage, and 3) whenever possible, find local sources for your ingredients.

Despite the exciting events of the last week, we are not done working over here at ASFC headquarters.  We will be watching to see how the new legislation works in practice – and we will surely be back in the Code seeking to tweak things at some point.  Additionally, we hope to address some of the regulatory issues in other parts of the metro-area.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are working on a number of tracks to address the lack of affordable kitchen space available to food truck operators in the city.

Thank you for your support!

Greg Smith

Atlanta Street Food Coalition