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October 10, 2012

Food trucks draw opposition, but gain approval for fundraiser

Ye Olde Saloon to host fundraiser rally Saturday

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Patrons of the Mac Shack food truck gather around Oct. 3 outside the Royal Oak Farmers Market during the monthly Motor City Street Eats food truck rally.

ROYAL OAK — Ye Olde Saloon will host a food truck rally this weekend to benefit the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan, a Royal Oak-based nonprofit.

That’s the short version.

The long version is that the 6-1 approval for the Oct. 13 event at 1023 S. Main during the Oct. 1 City Commission meeting stirred the pot on the increasingly disputed subject of food trucks within the city. Commissioner Peggy Goodwin was the lone dissenting vote.

The Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile, already hosts a monthly Motor City Street Eats food truck rally, most recently occurring Oct. 3 and featuring El Guapo, Mac Shack, Chow Catering, Taco Mama, Green Zebra, Treat Dreams, San Street and De Baja del Sol.

The Ye Olde Saloon food truck rally from 3-9 p.m. Oct. 13 will feature four unspecified trucks parked next to the saloon. Originally planned as a special event for the bar, the event’s fundraising aspect helped it earn a thumbs-up from not only the commission, but also the Royal Oak Restaurant Association, of which Ye Olde Saloon is a member.

“The general consensus is that it’s a one-time event and it’s for a good cause,” said RORA president Carrie O’Neill. “We are against food trucks if they are to be allowed to stop on our streets along the way.”

However, although the overall RORA gave Ye Olde Saloon its blessing, individual restaurant representatives from Oxford Inn and O’Tooles also came forward to voice their disagreement.

“I’m just totally against it,” said Oxford Inn owner Bob Higgins, who added that he disagreed with food trucks in general, not Ye Olde Saloon’s general operations. “I actually send my customers over to Ye Olde, because I close early and they do have a good operation.”

Oxford Inn is the only full-service restaurant located within two blocks of Ye Olde Saloon.

Ye Olde Saloon manager Donna Giles said she expects between 300 and 350 people to attend the event throughout the day, so she doesn’t anticipate parking or capacity problems, because other surrounding businesses are closed on weekends and will allow the saloon to use their parking lots.

“I think it will bring people to Royal Oak that maybe have never been here and maybe they’ll head downtown afterward,” Giles said.

Goodwin argued on behalf of many brick-and-mortar restaurants within the city that feel food trucks are essentially stealing potential customers who could be eating downtown.

“There’s not one downtown in Michigan that has more entertainment for every age than our city,” Goodwin said.

However, several other commissioners acknowledged the increasing interest in food trucks and figured a single event would not be damaging as a whole to the Central Business District.

“It’s a one-day event,” Commissioner David Poulton said. “The hours from 2-10 p.m. will be sufficient, and there will be people monitoring, so I don’t expect problems.”

However, Mayor Jim Ellison and Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Capello said they expect the event to be popular enough to draw out more than the 350 expected patrons, both suggesting Giles work with Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue to create a plan B in case the crowd or parking situation gets out of control.

“I think your number is kind of low with the popularity of food trucks. And you’ll have live bands and alcohol, too,” Ellison said, noting that attendees may end up parking nearby on Hudson Street “I think they need to be ready to anticipate a large crowd. I think it’ll be bigger than you expect.”

For more information on Ye Olde Saloon, visit www.yeoldesaloon.com.
 

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.