ALEXANDRIA, Va. – On July 1, the flood gates were opened for food truck owners to get a permit to serve Alexandria, but behind those gates, there was only a drop of water.
“Very slow so far,” says Jerome Fletcher, special assistant to Alexandria’s city manager. As of Thursday afternoon, “we have one permit that we have issued over the last 48 hours.”
Buying a meal off a food truck is normal in Washington and Arlington, but it has long been off the table in Alexandria until a pilot program was approved earlier this year. The program Fletcher says will “allow us to test out and see what’s working, what’s not working and a chance to re-evaluate the process over the course of that time.”
During a program kickoff at city hall, Thursday, a half a dozen spots reserved for food truck inspections on Royal Street remained vacant. City officials though remain optimistic.
“We are not worried about the turnout,” Fletcher said.
He believes the holiday weekend is partially to blame.. A Thursday afternoon may be a tough time for active food truck operators to make it to city hall.
“It maybe easier and more convenient for them to come on a Monday morning or a weekday when their business isn’t thriving as much,” Fletcher said.
Some critics are worried about the impact of the trucks on the historic town, which is why Fletcher says the 15-month program is important.
“We want to make sure that we put it out in a way that is pleasing for most of the city and not a small segment of the city,” he said.
Trucks will have to follow the same rules as restaurants.
“There is a health inspection and fire inspection that needs to be done,” he said.
Lettie Nocera of Alexandria says she looks forward to more food options in the city.
“I used to work in Arlington and D.C. and I visited food trucks very often, so I think it would be great for Alexandria,” Nocera said.
But when told about the low turnout she said “one permit is a little bit worrisome, but hopefully it will pick up steam after the Fourth of July.”