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First Coast Connect: Chriss Brown Talks Debate on Downtown Food Trucks

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Veronica Hall
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WJCT
Chriss Brown heads up Jax Truckies

The war between brick and mortar restaurants and food trucks in Jacksonville continues as a committee met at City Hall Wednesday to debate the current legislation that regulates food trucks. Chriss Brown of Jax Truckies offered a pro-food truck standpoint Thursday on First Coast Connect.

“Our position is that we are not in any way against restaurants,” Brown said. “We are simply providing a service that the consumers are choosing.”

After brick and mortar restaurants complained about losing business to food trucks, an ordinance was passed in July 2014 that made it illegal for food trucks to be within 50 feet of permanently established restaurants. It also set further boundaries for food trucks, including limitations to hours of operation and required permits.

Brown said while this legislation initially put downtown restaurant owners at ease, the addition of the Hogan Street food truck court caused another uproar between both sides.

“You can’t legislate competition,” she said.

According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, the addition of the Hogan Street food truck court has caused a 40 percent drop in revenue for some downtown restaurants.

“When a brick and mortar is saying that they’re losing business, I’m asking ‘What are you doing to get out of your four walls?’ ’’ Brown said.

With up to 15 trucks open at a time, Brown said consumers choose the trucks because they offer unique foods and a new and exciting atmosphere.

“The thing with food truck is you have chefs that are creating menus that you can’t find just anywhere and the choices have expanded so much that people are choosing to walk past a restaurant in order to try something different,” she said.

Brown said those concerned that food trucks will put brick and mortar restaurants out of business should relax.

“If you look at other cities that have really built downtowns, they have food truck courts, they have many options, they have arts markets, things like that,” Brown said, “and we’re just a part of that.”

News Intern Veronica Hall can be reached on Twitter @vhall1995 or at newsteam@wjct.org