TUPELO – Regulations, if any, for food trucks and any mobile food vendor doing business in the city of Tupelo won’t be introduced anytime soon, officials say.

On Tuesday, a meeting was held for brick-and-mortar restaurant owners to voice their concerns at City Hall. In December, a meeting was held for the food truck owners.

City officials said they are in no rush to get any regulation in place, but they are intent on getting something on the books.

“We’re not against the mobile food business,” said Ward 1 Alderman Markel Whittington. “We’re just here to listen and to see if we should have some restrictions or no restrictions.”

The meeting was attended by a mix of restaurant owners and food truck vendors, with representatives from both groups getting chances to talk.

“The main thing that I’m interested in, and I think the food trucks want it, too, is to have some regulations about where they can be, things like that,” said Leslie Nabors of Buffalo Wild Wings. “We don’t want just any trucks coming into town and setting up shop. You’ve got to have some kind of license and ordinances. As we grow, and as the town grows, we’re going to have more trucks coming in, and we need to set a precedence … at the end of the day, we’re all selling food, and we all want it to be safe for everybody, too.”

John Robbins, the owner of Mugshots, said he had no problems with food trucks and said there was a need for them in the city.

However, he said he wanted some ordinances in place to help protect the brick-and-mortar restaurants that have invested in building their businesses.

“Whether it’s a minimum distance food trucks can be from a restaurant, noise regulations over generators or if food trucks can park on city property – I don’t know if this is what we want to do, but I’ve looked into several cities’ food truck ordinances,” Robbins said. “I just hope the city looks into that. I’m not against food trucks, but I don’t want them to park on the same piece of property without any property tax or ordinances in place. We just want to make sure they jump through the same hoops we do.”

Some concerns were raised about where food trucks and trailers prepared their food, but they are inspected by the State Health Department as well. They also must meet other state and federal regulations and pay for a business privilege license in the city.

The food truck owners appear to have no resistance to paying the city some fee in order to do business as a mobile food vendor in the city.

“If you want to issue a permit, fine, but what goes along with that, I don’t know,” said Curt McClellan, owner of Local Mobile food truck. “It’s not zero regulation that we have … we do the same thing restaurants do except for the fire inspection.”

City Development Services Director Shane Hooper reiterated that the planning department would not be issuing any regulations. That job would be left for the City Council to decide, he said. His department would only enforce any rules that are issued.

— by Dennis Seid