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Mixed Reviews for First Day of Food Truck Zoning in Rosslyn

by Heather Mongilio — August 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm 2,069 0

Food truck owners say they saw shorter lines on the first day of Rosslyn’s new zoning pilot program.

The new program, spearheaded by Arlington Economic Development, laid out four dedicated areas for food trucks to park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — 19th Street below N. Lynn Street, Wilson Blvd above Kent Street, N. Pierce Street and Wilson Blvd and N. Nash Street and Wilson Blvd. The new locations didn’t stop Arlington workers and residents from stopping at the food trucks, but owners said they weren’t as busy as usual.

“I know the city tried to make the best,” Arepazone food truck co-owner Ali Arellano said. “They have music, a table and there are a lot of flyers, but at the end of the days, this place is not good for business.”

The music, tents and tables around the food truck zones were provided by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, which is also supporting the zoning effort.

Arellano parked on Wilson Blvd by the Artisphere’s old location and said he noticed that he had fewer customers than when he parked on N. Lynn Street, the main drag for most food trucks. At 12:45 p.m., he had about five customers in line.

“It is better to go to D.C.,” he said. “There are more people, more businesses.”

The four zones do not include any spots on N. Lynn Street and had the effect of spreading the trucks out rather than concentrating them in one location. Arellano said he believes this will hurt business.

“I think it’s not fair for the food trucks to park in other places,” he said. “The trucks should all park in the same row.”

Food trucks are still allowed to park in other spots in Rosslyn, but they will be limited to the time on the parking meters, usually two hours, instead of the extended four hours offered by the program.

When the trucks are together, they act like a food court, where customers have multiple options, including restaurants that also line N. Lynn Street, Arellano said. With the new zones, customers have to walk further to get the same options.

Moving the trucks off N. Lynn Street did have some bonuses, and not just for the businesses.

N. Lynn Street was a bit calmer and less crowded without the line of trucks, said Arlington resident Stephan Guy, who eats at a food truck daily. When the food trucks were all on N. Lynn Street, he said it was chaotic.

“I do know Lynn Street got absolutely crazy with food trucks,” Guy said. He said he understands the reasoning for the zoning plan, but also observed that some lines were shorter than usual.

Habib Seraj, the chef at food truck Fusion Confusion Inc., also saw shorter lines today. The truck was parked on 19th Street in an area with less foot traffic than N. Lynn Street or the Wilson Blvd and Kent Street zone.

However, Seraj was more optimistic and said he thought customers were starting to figure out where they could find the trucks. His only problems with the new zoning program was that cars were parked in some of the zone’s reserved spaces and the meters only ran for two hours.

“As long as they take care of the meters and everything, I’ll be fine,” he said.

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