Mobile Vending Coming to Minneapolis?
A proposal is making its way through the Minneapolis City Council. The proposal would allow mobile food vendors. The current proposal would allow only 25 mobile food vendors. The licenses will be sold first come first serve and when they are gone, they will be gone. The adjacent property owner must give permission for the mobile vehicle to be there. In addition to that, the mobile vehicles must disappear at night. The times are different for mobile vendors within 300 feet of a residential property. (10 pm close versus midnight).
The licensing will be limited to the downtown improvement district. The licensing costs about $483. For new businesses, a new business fee of $391 will also apply. The mobile vendor must specify the static location of the license. There are spacing requirements (6 foot clearance) and a requirement that entrances not be blocked by mobile vendors.
Proponents claim that the mobile food vendors will increase foot traffic in the downtown and allow restaurants to open satellite operations in the city. (Currently, 15 major cities provide mobile food vending). Proponents argued that the mobile vending issue could attract people to the downtown area.
Opponents include a lot of established businesses. In fact, only about 5-7 businesses expressed interest in the idea. One such business was Hell’s Kitchen which stated it was already exploring a “Hell on Wheels” unit.
Critics were extremely upset about the proposal. They said downtown businesses do not necessarily see that it is a expansion opportunity. Critics added that downtown businesses are worried that it will add competition. According to them, downtown restaurants are already half empty and they do not see why they need more competition.
Some storefront owners said they do not know how they can compete if they are paying huge downtown real estate prices with the mobile food vendors which are not. These restaurants fear an onslaught of competitions from vendors selling cheaper food. A counterpoint was made that established restaurants may have to provide additional services such as entertainment to compete with the mobile food vendors.
There will be a follow up meeting tomorrow 11:30 am at Room 319 in City Hall. Many in attendance were shocked that a meeting was planned on St. Patrick’s Day when that day is so busy for businesses no one could possibly attend.
A vote is expected at City Council soon. The ordinance is scheduled for hearing on Monday 22nd at 1:30 pm at City Council.