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Food trucks hampered by Rosslyn construction

By Morgan Fecto - ARLNow.com

Wednesday - 6/11/2014, 4:45pm  ET

Food trucks on N. Lynn Street in 
Rosslyn Food trucks on N. Lynn Street in 
Rosslyn Food trucks on N. Lynn Street in 
Rosslyn Food trucks on N. Lynn Street in 
Rosslyn Food trucks on N. Lynn Street in 
Rosslyn

Skyscraper construction near the Rosslyn Metro stop may force some food trucks to relocate or scale back their visits to the lunch hot spot.

“It sucks,” Louie Hankins, the co-founder of the Rito Loco truck, told ARLnow.com. “We can only park two or three trucks here where we used to park seven to eight.”

Construction began this winter on the Central Place apartment building, a 31-story skyscraper that’s projected to be completed in 2017, and has resulted in lane closures and parking restrictions on the stretch of N. Lynn Street between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N.

Hankins said the construction hasn’t drastically decreased his business. Still, he is considering coming to Rosslyn once every two weeks instead of his usual weekly stop.

“It’s taking most of our parking spots,” said Cindy Hernandez, assistant manager of the Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling truck. With the limited space, other food trucks often beat them to a parking place. In that case, the Rocklands truck relocates to Courthouse.

“There’s more parking but fewer customers there,” Hernandez said. Rocklands used to park in Rosslyn five times a week, but they now only come twice.

Some trucks experienced push-back from authorities, like the Korean BBQ Taco Box truck, which received two tickets after parking on N. Lynn Street, according to Yog Noh, who works on the truck. Noh said that they now park on Wilson Blvd outside of Chipotle, where they see less foot traffic. “A lot of the people who buy our food can’t really see where we are.”

The KBBQ truck had at least 80 customers a day on Lynn Street before construction. Now they get 40 daily customers on Wilson. “I think it’s going to affect us because Rosslyn is one of the best spots we come to,” Noh said.

The KBBQ truck is not the only truck officials have asked to move from Lynn Street. According to Urban Bumpkin truck owner John Nguyen, security guards near the Cosi, at the corner of Lynn and 19th Street, started calling the police on his truck this morning. Nguyen claimed he had started parking at a one-hour metered spot, but was forced to move to Ballston for lunch.

“I said, ‘how are you going to write me a ticket if I just got here?’” Nguyen said. “We were parking in a legal spot with no sign. One of the parking enforcers said they were cracking down on food trucks.”

As a result, Urban Bumpkin served 75 customers in Ballston instead of the usual 100 or more they get in Rosslyn, Nguyen said.

Doug Maheu, the Arlington County Director for the DMV Food Truck Association, and owner of Doug the Food Dude food truck, said that parking is always scarce on Lynn Street because “it’s a gateway into D.C.”

“Lynn Street is probably the premiere spot in Arlington right now,”  Maheu said. “Hopefully we can find some other places that are close.”

Maheu is speaking with the county about alternative parking and plans to contact the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. Mary-Claire Burick, executive director of the Rosslyn BID, said the organization is working to find a solution.

“We are looking at alternate and additional places to encourage food trucks,” Burick said in an email, “such as Kent Street and further up Wilson, to continue to offer diverse options to workers and residents all across Rosslyn.”

Once the JBG Companies completes the first phase of construction on Central Place in the coming weeks, the Lynn Street parking restrictions are expected to be lifted, according to Burick.

“[The Rosslyn BID] showed interest to find other locations in the past and I’m sure that we can move forward with that now,” Maheu said.

In the meantime, KBBQ Box is considering relocating to either Ballston, Courthouse or Tysons to get more customers. Some trucks will continue to search for parking on Lynn Street for the amount of customers it offers.

“So far, so good,” William Carter of Willie’s Po’ Boy said. “It’s always worth it. This is probably the best spot here in Arlington.”