City of Alexandria pushes for food trucks

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) – Attention foodies! Alexandria’s days of being a food truck desert may be numbered. There's a new push to clear the road for curbside cooking in the city. Right now, food trucks are banned unless parked at construction sites or given special event permits.

Small business owner Rich Arslan is hungry for change.

“I love the sound of popcorn," said the owner of Popped! Republic Gourmet Popcorn. “I love the smell of it,” he continued. “I love the taste of it.”

He took his passion for popcorn on the road a year and a half ago. “I always wanted to have my own business," he explained.

Arslan ended a 15-year career overseeing clinical drug trials in the pharmaceutical industry and bought a food truck.

“I think food trucks are great for the community,” he exclaimed. “They're great for the economy."

It’s inside his Alexandria retail store and kitchen where Popped! Republic comes alive, but it's along the curb where he's made many loyal customers who crave his savory and sweet creations.

Arslan drives where there's demand. “I’m able to catch the afternoon snacks [crowd],” he said. “I'm able to catch on the evening rush hour and then the late night [foodies] by going to local universities."

One place where he can't sell from his truck is outside his brick and mortar store in Alexandria. Arslan is part of the city's Food Truck Policy Advisory Group that’s dishing out advice to City Council about revising the regulations.

“It’s made up of food truck owners, restaurant owners, citizens and there are members from the Alexandria Economic Partnership as well," Arslan informed.

The DMV Food Truck Association just launched this website to build the appetite for food trucks. Residents can sign their name in support.

People we found looking for a bite to eat in Old Town were happy to weigh in on the so-called meals on wheels.

“It’s a great way to bring portable food to the masses,” said Steven Gregory. “It's good, excellent cheap food that people love."

“I’m an admirer of folks who do that,” said Christine Fuss of Food Truck Owners. “I also understand a restaurateurs position that they don't want a food truck pulling up and taking some of their clientele, but I’ve enjoyed both,” she continued.

Some others concerns are traffic, parking and litter. The food truck task force is weighing the pros and cons and will share its recommendations with the City Council. A public hearing is likely later on this year.

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