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Oklahoma City's ban on food trucks in Bricktown limits choices for visitors

Oklahoma City business owners remain opposed to allowing mobile food and drink providers in Bricktown.
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: July 7, 2014

photo - Food truck fans line up at Roxy’s Ice Cream Social during last month’s LIVE on the Plaza along the 16th Street Plaza District.    Photo by NewsOK contributor  K. Mennem  Picasa
Food truck fans line up at Roxy’s Ice Cream Social during last month’s LIVE on the Plaza along the 16th Street Plaza District. Photo by NewsOK contributor K. Mennem Picasa

Imagine standing on a line for 30 minutes just to buy an ice cream or a bottle of water on a hot summer evening.

Such waits might make someone think twice about visiting a destination — and the lack of a quick place to buy a drink certainly could be viewed even as a health hazard.

When large crowds gather in various areas of the city, food trucks often help pick up the slack, or are even the draw for such traffic. But in Bricktown this past holiday weekend, not a single food truck could be found, though they are commonly part of similar gatherings in competing districts like Midtown, Automobile Alley, Film Row and the Plaza District.

There’s a reason for this: More than a dozen years ago, people who led Bricktown — folks no longer involved or even alive — dictated to the city that more prohibitive rules be established to prevent food trucks from doing business in the district.

Food trucks cannot do business within 75 feet of the Bricktown Canal, which pretty much carves out the heart of Bricktown as a no-go zone for food truck operators. And food trucks cannot be operated on private property, again a far more prohibitive rule than those that govern the rest of the city. If food trucks want to set up for business in Bricktown, they must secure a metered parking spot.

Good luck with that.

On my visit to Bricktown over the weekend, I saw a district that could not accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors who gathered for the traditional July Fourth festivities. Lines of people could be found everywhere, from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop to Sonic to McDonald’s, and at all restaurants in between.

Some of these people were just looking for a cold refreshment or a quick treat, items that can easily and quickly be provided by food trucks.

City staff members are in the process of rewriting proposed changes to the food truck ordinances that could make business easier for the operators. But these changes, at this time, will not address the prohibitions in Bricktown.

Avis Scaramucci, owner of Nonna’s, is one of those opposed to changing the rules. To her credit, she has invested time and money in making the district a better place. And while food trucks have proven to draw more business to other districts and are being embraced by restaurant and property owners in Midtown, Automobile Alley and the Plaza District, she sees no reason to change the rules in Bricktown.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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