CHATHAM – Don't look for a food truck downtown during this summer's Mondays on Main music events.
In a split vote, the chamber of commerce board of directors voted recently to not submit paperwork the board of selectmen needed to act on a request to allow the Mom and Pops Burgers food truck downtown during the weekly music strolls. The issue will be tabled until after the summer.
Chamber President Stephen Williams said he intends to write a letter to selectmen urging the board to develop regulations dealing with food trucks in the downtown area.
“They're going to have to look at that regardless of whether we're endorsing food trucks downtown or not,” he said.
The Chatham Merchants Association, which sponsors Mondays on Main and operates under the chamber, planned to have the food truck downtown after hearing from people who attended last year's music strolls that there were not enough food choices available during the event. When the group sought a permit from the board of selectmen under regulations governing the outdoor display of goods, several downtown restaurant owners objected. Rebecca Segura of Chatham Cookware said a food truck would be unfair competition, and David Oppenheim, owner of the Wayside Inn and Segura's landlord, said more discussion was needed about the impact a food truck would have on the character of the town. The merchants were also criticized for not notifying members of the decision.
Selectmen suggested allowing the food truck to operate during four of the planned nine Mondays on Main events as a test, but needed a specific location to permit the operation. Originally the truck was supposed to operate at the Cape Cod Five bank parking lot, but the bank withdrew its permission and a new location had to be found.
In calling on the selectmen to develop regulations, Williams said it should not be up to the chamber to decide if a food truck is allowed downtown. During discussions on the subject several weeks ago, selectmen agreed there was a gap in the regulations. In the past food trucks have been allowed downtown but only during one-day, off-season events such as First Night and Oktoberfest.
“It's very complicated,” said Williams, adding that members of the chamber board also “wanted time to gather more information.” Chamber members were informed of the vote—reportedly 4-3 to table the matter, with one abstention—in a newsletter this week, said chamber Executive Director Mary Cavanaugh.