Zoning change could bring food trucks to Northglenn

Changes in new ordinance could allow trucks to come home

Casey Van Divier
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/24/18

Food truck owners based in Northglenn all have one thing in common: They rarely do business in Northglenn. “We’ve been in Golden, all the way down in Centennial, up in Longmont,” food truck …

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Zoning change could bring food trucks to Northglenn

Changes in new ordinance could allow trucks to come home

Posted

Food truck owners based in Northglenn all have one thing in common: They rarely do business in Northglenn.

“We’ve been in Golden, all the way down in Centennial, up in Longmont,” food truck owner Jacob Viers said. “We’ll go anywhere.”

Viers, who opened barbecue food truck Seasoned Swine in 2017, operated six days a week over the summer — but only in Northglenn a handful of times.

“There’s just not enough territory in Northglenn, and they don’t allow certain things,” he said.

The City of Northglenn’s new zoning ordinance seeks to address these concerns. The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which city planners presented to the city council on Oct. 1, outlines updated regulations for mobile food vendors.

The ordinance gives more freedom to food trucks, which currently are not allowed to operate anywhere in the city, except in cases of special events on public property such as the annual Northglenn Food Truck Carnival in May.

“The new UDO will allow them as accessory uses in non-residentially zoned property,” Northglenn Senior Planner Eric Ensey said.

While on commercial property, food trucks will not be allowed to park within 150 feet of a single-family residential zoning district, or within 150 feet of another restaurant. However, food truck drivers may get written approval from restaurant owners to park closer to their stores.

Food truck owners who want to operate on private property also will be required to get permission from the property owner.

The city council will suggest changes to the draft at its Nov. 5 meeting and aims to approve a final draft at the beginning of 2019, Ensey said.

Food truck business evolving

For Northglenn resident Andrea Hernandez, owner of food truck Teal Taco, proposed changes could mean shorter commutes. Like Viers, Hernandez “tries to do business as often as possible in Northglenn and Thornton,” she said.

However, she usually does business outside of the city, despite the fact that her truck is based in the Northglenn area.

“It would definitely be a lot more convenient if they went ahead and gave us the OK to find a spot here,” she said.

“It’s become a lot more common for food trucks to cater even smaller gatherings,” she said. “It’s not just the typical parking at a corner lot and letting customers come to you. This is more of a food truck going to the client.”

The shift to catering-based business is popular among food truck owners. For Viers and his girlfriend, who helps him run the food truck, “catering is what we really love,” he said.

He suggested that food trucks are seeing an increase in catering requests because of a change in public perception of the industry.

“Back in the day, (customers) maybe didn’t want to eat at food trucks due to how they looked or the reputation they had,” he said.

To be sure, more food trucks are popping up across the state. As of Oct. 19, 593 food trucks were registered in the city of Denver alone, according to the city’s Business Licensing Center.

‘I’m not going to slow down’

For Viers and Hernandez, their success has not come without a large share of food-truck-related challenges.

“Last year, I was driving in the snow, and it was crazy,” Viers said. “We were out all winter trying to keep our water tanks from freezing, our produce from freezing, ourselves from freezing.”

And, while buying a truck is cheaper than leasing a store, Hernandez said, food truck owners face other hallenges — such as deciding where to store their truck overnight — and other expenses.

“There’s parking fees, there’s kitchen fees, there’s so many fees,” she said.

Even so, Hernandez and Viers said they have no plans to quit any time soon.

“I get up at three in the morning most of the summer, sometimes after two hours of sleep,” Viers said. “But when you want something and you feel so strongly about it, and you have people asking for your food — I’m not going to slow down.”

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