Salt Lake City — (KUTV) These are the salad days for food truck owners in Utah.
In the last three years, the number of food trucks in the state have jumped from a few dozen to more than 300. While the food trucks are actively feeding Utah, the owners of the trucks say they are also feeding the coffers of too many cities and counties.
“These micro entrepreneurs face a ton of fees and regulation and people don't really know about those government hurdles,” said Connor Boyack of the Libertus Institute. He said these food truck owners find themselves paying for licences in each city they hope to do business, unlike a brick and mortar restaurant which only pays one business license.
“These food trucks, if they want to operate in 10 cities they're paying 10 fees,” said Boyack. Sean Hintze owns Sean’s Smokehouse. He has a restaurant, but he uses his truck to get the word out about his place. He said it’s more expensive to license his small truck than his whole restaurant.
“We're going to be spending four or five thousand dollars just in licensing, just to sell our food.”
J. Looney’s Chow Truck is a trailblazer in Utah. It is the first gourmet food truck in the state. Looney said in addition to excessive license fees, he also gets inspected at a disproportional rate.
“I’ve been inspected no less than a dozen times already this year, and I'll probably get five more inspections (before the end of the year),” said Looney.
Libertas has been working with State Sen. Deidre Henderson to draft a bill that would allow food truck operators to get a license in one city that will be able to be used in all cities.
Guys like Hintze say it needs to pass or some of his food truck friends might be out of business soon.
“Some of these other trucks, they'll be lucky if they can survive. Their food is incredible; it has nothing to do with their food. It's the regulations and the fees they've got to pay.”