After hearing from the president of the Royal Oak Restaurant Association (RORA) and the police chief, Royal Oak City Commissioners approved Ye Olde Saloon's request for a Special Event Permit (SEP) Monday night to host a food truck rally on Oct. 13.
The food truck rally will consist of four local food trucks parked from 3-9 p.m. in the Ye Olde Saloon's parking lot on the north side of the business. The bar’s general manager, Donna Giles, told commissioners she anticipates approximately 300-350 persons attending the public event, which will include live music and alcoholic beverages.
Interim Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue told commissioners he did not anticipate the event creating any enforcement issues for the police department.
Proceeds from the food truck rally will benefit Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan, located in Royal Oak, Giles said. The general manger told commissioners the benefit piece was added to the event after learning SEPs are routinely denied without a charity component.
Food trucks not palatable for all
Carrie O’Neal, the president of RORA, said the restaurant association is adamantly against any type of ordinance that would allow food trucks to sell on the streets or private property near a restaurant on a regular basis no matter what type of product they offer, but were willing to go along with Ye Olde Saloon’s request for a one-day event for charity.
“It’s a good event and it’s for a good cause. Isolated events on private property are an acceptable situation for the majority of our members,” O’Neal said.
Mayor Jim Ellison expressed concerns the crowd estimate was low and that parking might become an issue, especially if the weather cooperates.
“I think you are going to be more successful than you are anticipating,” Ellison said.
He asked Giles to work with the O'Donohue and have an alternative plan in place if crowd size becomes a problem, and then hesitantly supported the request.
“I have a concern for setting a precedence for food trucks,” Ellison said. “I want to support our restaurant association and their statement, but I am willing to give this one a try and see how it works.”
More than a roach coach
Food trucks have grown beyond the roach coaches and taco trucks that started appearing in the 1950s. Gourmet food trucks serve ethnic or fusion cuisine and, thanks to social media, have die-hard followings.
Food trucks have become a popular thing in the region. The Royal Oak Farmers Market runs a food truck rally every month. (The next Street Eats is Wednesday and includes a flash mob.)
Royal Oak resident Nick Britsky believes food trucks attract young people in search of excitement.
“They want that creativeness. They want to see that new food that is coming,” Britsky said during public comment.