What the Truck is a food truck in Grand Rapids.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - The food trucks are coming.
In June, Grand Rapids amended its rules to allow food trucks on private property, but no downtown business had taken advantage of the new rules. At a city planning commission meeting on Thursday that all changed.
City planning commission voted unanimously to allow the Grand Rapids Art Museum to host two food trucks on its property for 200 days out of the year.
Food trucks do show up at events like ArtPrize, but so far there has been no permanent downtown locations.
Randy Van Antwerp deputy director of the GRAM pushed for the food trucks. "We can have two food trucks starting after ArtPrize. For us, we are excited to have some alternatives to downtown and hopefully increase the foot traffic in the downtown area," explains Van Antwerp. Being a community center is a part of the Grand Rapids Art Museum's mission.
Food trucks have become an important part of downtown life across the country and they offer many advantages over a traditional restaurant apart from being mobile. Paul Lee is co-owner of the Winchester, a brick-and-mortar restaurant as well as What the Truck, a food truck that has been around since 2010. "We can reach a customer base that might not have time to walk into a restaurant," explains Lee. "Customers can grab a meal sit outside or take it to go."
When the city first amended the ordinance back in June, there was some opposition from the traditional restaurants, but there was little resistance to the Grand Rapids Art Museum hosting two trucks. "I think there is some trust by the art museum among the neighbors," says City Planning Director Suzanne Schulz. "They are not going to have competing food items or similar food items to the surrounding restaurants."
Randy Van Antwerp stresses this good neighbor approach. "We really do want this to compliment the other businesses. It is not in our best interest go out and have a negative impact by this.
Food trucks also fall under a lot of the same rules as typical restaurant. For example, to ensure food safety food trucks, like restaurants, are inspected by the health department every six months in Kent County.
If you would like to eat from one, ArtPrize is hosting two food trucks outside the GRAM during ArtPrize and after the GRAM will host two trucks for the rest of the year.