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To lure more food trucks, Syracuse lowers fee, adds new locations

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
The Lady Bug Lunch Box food truck in downtown Syracuse.

The city of Syracuse is trying to make it easier for food trucks to do business. But at least one food truck owner has questions over the new laws governing their operation.

Syracuse Common Councilor Michael Greene said other cities have a vibrant food truck culture that Syracuse is lacking. So, the council approved lowering the license fee from $1500 to $500 and expanding the locations where food trucks can set up shop.

“I think it’s an exciting development," Greene said. "I think it’s got the opportunity to increase the quality of life and then also help entrepreneurs get off their feet and start a business.”

The new ordinance does away with the old system of a lottery that granted one specific location to food trucks. Now, food trucks will pick a spot based on first come, first served. That raises concerns from Pam Dwyer of Lady Bug Lunch Box, who is currently the only licensed food truck operator in downtown Syracuse. She’s been in the same spot for about 12 years.

“I don’t want to load up all my stuff and drive five different places not knowing where I’m going that day," Dwyer said. "I don’t want to play Where’s Waldo. I don’t want my customers playing that game either. Where’s Lady Bug today? They only have a half hour. They may not be able to see me.”

Dwyer does admit a lower license fee and more locations, especially near parks, will be great. The changes are set to take effect next year. The city could also implement a weekly food truck rodeo to bring more trucks together in one location to generate larger crowds. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.