When Steve Liautaud appears to be at a vacant large amount in the center of downtown Biddeford, he imagines a lively cellular foodstuff courtroom with string lights hanging overhead and tunes playing while diners consume foods served from community food vans.
A proposal from the Kennebunk resident to transform the whole lot into a foodstuff court for foodstuff vehicles and mobile food items vendors has prompted city officers to assessment the city’s principles for foods vehicles, which were being developed very long in the past for mobile canteen vehicles that pulled up exterior of the mills to feed staff.
The food stuff courtroom would be the initially of its variety in Biddeford, but the concept has develop into more widespread across the country as food stuff vans have become much more well-liked in modern years. Congdon’s Following Dark – the only day-to-day food items truck park in New England – appeals to hundreds of site visitors to Wells each and every summertime. And meals vehicles are a popular attraction in Portland, where 40 meals vehicles and 13 pushcarts are licensed to work this yr and contribute to Portland’s standing as a foodie place.
In Biddeford, foodstuff vans are sometimes in city for festivals or parked on personal assets, but are not a typical sight all through the town. A very hot pet dog cart is a regular fixture outside of Town Hall.
“I’m developing a total experience around the food items truck and using away the imperfection of foodstuff truck eating,” Liautaud mentioned. “I’m scaling it up to a degree wherever you sense you are walking into a great cafe but you’re finding the complete outdoor foods truck expertise.”
In advance of Liautaud can transfer forward with the acceptance method for the food stuff court, named Metropolis Aspect, the Metropolis Council would have to grant an easement to the site, which is only obtainable by two metropolis-owned parking places. The house is at 64 Alfred St., the chaotic corner of Alfred and Pool streets, and has been vacant considering the fact that the setting up that experienced been there was destroyed by fireplace on Nov. 25, 2006.
The residence has been difficult to build because of its layout, area and the backfill made use of to fill the basis, according to city officials.
When town officers work on and look at the easement, the Downtown Advancement Commission will evaluate ordinances similar to meals vehicles a lot more broadly at the ask for of the Metropolis Council. Biddeford’s recent licensing and land use ordinances that apply to mobile food sellers involve operators of food vans and concession trailers to receive a allow and inspection from the metropolis just about every year and to hold a condition health and fitness certification. But there are some conflicts amongst the two ordinances that need to have to be ironed out, in accordance to Mathew Eddy, the city’s arranging and enhancement director.
“The licensing ordinance goes again to the previous days when they’d pull up cell canteen vans by the mills and men and women would arrive out to get their foodstuff,” he mentioned. “The concept of a cell meals court docket is really distinctive than what it was back again then.”
Liautaud would like to faucet into the strength and pleasure all-around foodstuff vans to generate an increased experience for clients. If authorized, the foodstuff court would aspect a rotating lineup of 6 food items trucks and carts situated all around a central eating region. He would utilize people to clear tables and provide area microbrews. His strategies involve restrooms on the corner great deal.
Foodstuff truck operators would arrive every single working day and set up in a pod that would consist of electric power, drinking water, gray water and oil dump. To satisfy Biddeford’s parking specifications for restaurants, Metropolis Facet workers would park in spots Liautaud has secured at Paul’s Variety.
Dining at foodstuff vans is “an exceptional working experience that just demands to go a minor bit farther” with features like tables, reported Liautaud, who owned dining establishments in Chicago and is now a broker specializing in expense properties. He worked in the cafe field for 30 decades right before shifting to Maine and buying Harmon’s Clam Cakes, which he marketed in 2019.
“Today’s food stuff truck operators are formally qualified chefs screening and building reducing-edge ideas in perfectly-intended kitchens on wheels. They are social media ninjas with loyal followings,” he claimed, noting that they can draw in clients in a way that would help the city’s mission to make improvements to its graphic and grow.
Liautaud said he was drawn to reworking the vacant ton into a meals courtroom because of its situation in the middle of “a actually great city.”
“That site is tremendous exclusive. It’s the gateway into Biddeford and I see it as the crown jewel,” he claimed.
Liautaud would like to operate the food stuff courtroom from Could 1 to Halloween every yr. From Thanksgiving to Xmas, he envisions the great deal as a “Chris Kringle Xmas Village” with roasted chestnuts, beer and brats, Christmas tree gross sales and booths for artisans.
The proposal requires web page prepare review, but that method are unable to begin right until Liautaud can exhibit there is entry to the website. Simply because curb cuts are not a very good selection at that intersection, the only feasible obtain is by two public parking spots that are at this time used for totally free two-hour parking. Eddy stated the project can’t go forward until an easement is granted.
The City Council talked over the plan for the to start with time past 7 days all through a committee-of-the-whole discussion, when no community input is taken or votes produced. General, town councilors appeared intrigued in the prospect of the cellular food stuff court docket and meals vehicles usually, but elevated some issues about parking and the opportunity effect on brick-and-mortar eating places.
Councilors supported owning the Downtown Development Fee critique ordinances associated to foods vehicles.
Town Supervisor James Bennett told the council that commencing inspecting insurance policies for foods trucks would possible begin some broader discussions about levels of competition with common restaurants and the proper harmony. But, he reported, there will be people who persuade food items trucks since they could boost the visibility of Biddeford as a position to go.
“As the neighborhood will become extra preferred and additional of a position folks want to be, you are going to have far more stress because persons want to have a lot more food items distributors in the local community,” Bennett stated. “I imagine this is the commencing of a dialogue the neighborhood will want to have at some issue in the around long term.”
Councilor Marc Lessard explained he favors the idea of looking at allowing foodstuff vehicles and carts at the website for a demo interval, then reviewing regulations once more in scenario they need to be tweaked. He believes regulations need to be approached from a citywide standpoint instead of for a single particular residence or undertaking.
Councilor William Emhiser stated he thinks a cell foods court could turn into a place significantly like Congdon’s Right after Dark in Wells. He reported he spoke with a downtown cafe owner about the notion past week.
“I’ll use his exact text: He claimed ‘I am stoked,’” Emhiser said.
Councilor Amy Clearwater, who supported sending the food items truck issue to the DDC, reported she has heard from folks who have foods vans and are fascinated in coming to Biddeford. If they do effectively and establish a pursuing, some could open up restaurants in the town, she reported.
“In my knowledge, they are frequently an incubator area for an individual who would like to have a brick-and-mortar location,” she stated.
The prospect of a cell foods court docket prompted speak at the Heart of Biddeford, a nonprofit corporation that supports the downtown and nearby corporations. Govt Director Delilah Poupore mentioned two of the organization’s committees have been speaking about how the cell food court docket could improve the downtown and how to mitigate any possible unfavorable impacts to brick-and-mortar restaurants. There are now 50 food stuff organizations downtown and several just take on a good deal of financial debt to open up and make a adhering to downtown, she claimed.
Even though there is problem food vehicles could get organization absent from brick-and-mortar eating places, food items vans can also deliver pleasure and carry people to the metropolis who would then arrive again to try out other restaurants, Poupore claimed. A single retail small business proprietor who spoke with the Coronary heart of Biddeford about the proposal reported it could be a way to provide consideration to the region, but yet another small business proprietor explained they’d skilled unfavorable impacts from meals vans in the earlier, she said.
“There’s a thing definitely thrilling about food stuff vans that make individuals come out and consider them,” Poupore explained.
Jackie Hardin is co-operator of Yeto’s restaurant and D&G, a new deli and gelato shop on Main Street, and serves on the Heart of Biddeford board. She believes establishing up-to-date and distinct policies for meals vans is a “really great starting off point.” She hopes the mobile food court docket would be established up so the place is effectively taken care of and foods vehicles are portion of the community.
Hardin claimed food items trucks and cell food items stations could be a “valuable asset to the city” at a time when it’s executing well with its revitalization.
“They bring in a ton of foot traffic, then individuals discover other things,” she mentioned. “Getting persons to expend far more time downtown is generally a good concept.”