Outdoor Food Court In Village Center Up For Review

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Orleans news , Community events , Economic development

This site off Route 6A near the intersection with Main Street could host six food trucks and a “container bar” this summer. ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS There's a plan to circle the wagons for some good eats in the village center this summer.

The town's site plan review committee was scheduled to hold an informal review yesterday (Feb. 7) on a proposal to surround eight picnic tables with six food trucks and a “container bar” on Route 6A just west of The Red Balloon. Specifically, the review focused on Blue Bubbles, LLC's plan to tear down a garage on the site and install the 320-square-foot container bar.

Todd Thayer, who's the contact for the development, had not returned messages for comment by press time.

Planning department comments prepared for the meeting note that a site plan was approved a year ago for three food trucks with a beer garden and 12 parking spaces. Two food trucks were in business there last summer, but the beer garden component was not licensed to operate.

The current site plan, prepared by Coastal Engineering, calls for eight eight-seat picnic tables bordered by two sets of three food trucks and 16 bar seats at the container. The plans on file have no additional information on container bars, but an internet search shows a variety of what appear to be metal freight containers repurposed for a variety of uses. The container bar would be located along the eastern edge of the property, with an unspecified “art installation” west of the picnic tables.

Twelve existing parking spaces just off 6A would be relined and 12 more would be created by extending an existing parking lot at the rear of the site.

Local zoning allows restaurants to serve alcohol, but does not allow alcohol service on its own. “The applicant must demonstrate that food trucks serve as a restaurant for that use,” the planning department commented, “and that alcohol service only take place in conjunction with food service.” The board of selectmen must license food and alcohol service.

Last summer, the planning board sought public comment on a proposed amendment that would add mobile food establishments as an approved use under zoning. Director of Planning and Development George Meservey noted at the time that the principal issue was not deployment of food trucks in the village center but rather the building commissioner's request to decide whether and where such venues are allowable. He prepared a draft zoning amendment laying out definitions and requirements.

Last October, town meeting voted unanimously to add mobile food establishments to the zoning bylaw, defining them as “a motorized vehicle or unmotorized wheeled vehicle from which food or drink (prepared on-site or prepackaged) is sold or served to the general public, whether consumed on-site or elsewhere. The vehicle must be supported by and return to a fixed, licensed food establishment daily.” The use was permitted in the town's business and village center districts.