City Council to consider expanding food truck operating hours in Alexandria

Brandon Byrd, owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats in Old Town (staff photo by James Cullum)

It’s about to get easier to find a taco truck in the middle of the night in Alexandria.

City Council will consider a staff recommendation next week on extending the vending hours for food trucks from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the continuous vending time from four to six hours.

The issue was first introduced by Mayor Justin Wilson in a City Council meeting on April 2. He was supported with statements from City Council Members John Taylor Chapman, Sarah Bagley, Canek Aguirre and Kirk McPike.

“The city did adopt a pretty extensive ordinance that’s highly regulatory to address how food trucks operate in the city,” Wilson said on April 2. “I, for one, would be open for pushing that time back a little later.”

Alexandria approved a highly restrictive food truck ordinance in 2014. There are only five food trucks that are approved vendors in the city, and food trucks are only allowed in three public areas:

  • The 800 block of N. West Street, north of Madison Street, near the Braddock Road Metro (space for 2 food trucks)
  • The 1700 block of King Street adjacent to King Street Gardens (space for 3 food trucks)
  • The 2200 block of Eisenhower Avenue, near Mill Road (space for 3 food trucks)

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said that the 2014 ordinance was approved with the concerns of the restaurant community in mind.

“When that ordinance came about, I think one of the concerns was from our business community, the restaurants themselves, the brick and mortars having to deal with other more flexible businesses like food trucks,” she said. “And trucks taking away the business of those that actually have brick and mortars, that have to pay the monthly mortgage or rent or lease on those restaurants.”

Food trucks can currently operate on private property in Alexandria, but are still bound by the 8 p.m. curfew.

“Free the food trucks,” said City Council Member Canek Aguirre. “I’ve always thought that our ordinance was a little bit too restrictive. coming from LA (Los Angeles), some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has been out of a food truck.”

According to a city staff report:

Current regulations permit vending between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. daily. Staff proposes permitting vending between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. daily. As food truck vending often includes noise from diners and odor impacts from cooking similar to outdoor dining, staff recommends hours that would be equivalent to the city standard closing hours for outdoor dining.

The matter will go before Council for introduction on Tuesday, May 14, and will be considered in a vote on Saturday, May 18.