Food vending bill passed by Mayor effective next spring

The new district aims to organize food trucks.

A new city ordinance will further regulate the presence of food vendors on Main Campus. A total of 50 spots will be assigned to vendors; 36 to food trucks and 14 to food carts.

Locations will be regulated to a box bounded by Diamond, 10th, Oxford and 16th streets. No vendors will be allowed on 13th Street due to construction. Most food trucks are to be located on Norris Street and Montgomery Avenue, while food carts will be grouped around the Student Center and Tyler School of Art.

“This limits the number of vendors on campus, but it allows most legal vendors to stay,” said Beverly Coleman, the assistant vice president for Community Relations and Economic Development. “We would get a lot of calls and complaints when a new vendor showed up and took a spot, but we couldn’t do anything about it.”

“It’s creating order in the district,” said Rafael de Luna, owner of the food truck El Guaco Loco and member of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association. “There’s an unwritten rule that certain trucks have certain spots.”

The new ordinance will also require some vendors to make a switch from a generator-powered truck or cart to the use of power cords.

A number of vendors are concerned about the high cost of power cords, which can be between $3,000 and $6,000, de Luna said. He added vendors may be looking to hire a single installer to reduce the overall cost.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Virginia Apostolopoulos, owner of The Creperie Truck. “They don’t have to go out and get gas in the middle of the day and then worry about losing a spot. It’ll be easier.”

Both Apostolopoulos and Luna said getting power cords for the trucks wouldn’t be the only modifications necessary for the power change. The truck itself would have to be modified to run off electricity instead of gas from a generator.

“A significant number of vendors won’t have to move, so they won’t need new cords,” Coleman said. “We’ve been working with the vendors about where they’re going to be located so that they’re comfortable with the move.”

Coleman said there were tensions at the beginning of the ordinance’s creation because vendors were concerned about having to relocate.

“A lot were upset because they weren’t consulted at the beginning,” de Luna said. “It caused turmoil, but working with the university sorted it out.”

De Luna said one big concern came from vendors on 13th Street.

“They had built a following of people who knew where they were,” he said. “They were afraid they might lose customers.”

De Luna added proper advertising and telling customers about the move will help reduce the impact.

Apostolopoulos said the new district won’t cause a huge change.

“The competition is still going to be out there, in the same way,” Apostolopoulos said. “We’re all in a space of two to three blocks. It’s not like there are 10 blocks’ worth of trucks coming into this little space. It’s the same number of vendors, just some different places.”

Coleman said the change had been building over time as safety concerns increased. On top of new vendors disrupting the unspoken order that had been established around Temple, safety concerns were raised by the “manner carts were aligned,” Coleman said.

“People were walking between cars,” she said. “This is going to have a positive impact on safety for students, staff and the vendors.”

Julie Christie can be reached at or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

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