RALEIGH — Carolina Beach has overturned its law prohibiting out-of-town food trucks from serving the community after the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of food truck owners.
The Carolina Beach Town Council held an evening closed door session Tuesday, Aug. 28, and scrapped the law, which would have allowed only brick-and-mortar restaurants to operate food trucks. Restaurants operating food trucks legally also must have been in business for more than a year.
Aug. 21, on the steps of the New Hanover County Courthouse, IJ announced a lawsuit against the town for violating food truck owners’ constitutional rights. Justin Pearson, a senior attorney at IJ, said the town was unfairly picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
Seven days later the council repealed the food truck law.
“It is a shame that it took a lawsuit to convince the town to repeal such an obviously unconstitutional law,” Pearson said in a press release. “I’m hopeful that [Tuesday’s] vote will signal the end to the town’s attempt to use the power of government to favor a handful of established businesses over the region’s entrepreneurs.”
Food truck owners who were party to the lawsuit expressed relief at the council’s change of heart.
“I’m very excited, very happy for all food truck owners in the area,” said Michelle Rock, owner of T’Geaux Boys and Momma Rock’s Desserts. “We’re just very happy Carolina Beach has decided to lift restrictions and allow us to serve the public and allow us to serve food truck food.”
“We’re very happy and we’re just happy that they did the right thing,” Aaron Cannon, owner of A & M’s Red Food Truck, said. “We’re looking forward to serving the people of Carolina Beach and building relationships there.”
The town council also voted to reopen discussion on how to regulate the food truck industry. IJ attorney Johanna Talcott said her group will continue to monitor the discussion.
“Our lawsuit is far from over,” Talcott said. “The vote indicates that the town wants to abide by the state constitution, but the town also indicated that it still intends to pursue regulations regarding food trucks.”
“Due to current legal action the town will not comment on this issue,” said, Michael Cramer, Carolina Beach town manager.
Lindsay Marchello is a staff writer for Carolina Journal.