There are no food trucks in Lakeville, either, said Town Administrator Rita Garbitt. But next door in Middleborough, Brian Slowik runs his Acushnet-based mobile fish market Wednesday through Saturday in the Route 28 parking lot of Lorenzo’s Italian restaurant. Slowik also owns two mobile units that sell cooked seafood in the Fall River and New Bedford area.
Diversifying is critical in hard times, even in the food truck business, Slowik said, so he carries a range of seafood items, including gluten-free fish and lobster cakes, to accommodate special diets.
“It’s a tough economy, but things are going well,’’ he said. “It’s funny how when things get tough you go backwards. I remember mobile carts on the street when I was little and a man selling rags.”
But not every town is receptive to the food truck concept, Slowik acknowledged. “Some think this is on the ghetto side. But we have hot and cold running water and a three-bay sink.”
Slowik also has a bathroom in the fish-market truck, which Middleborough health agent Jeanne Spalding said is a critical component of the health code. Mobile vendors must either have their own facilities, or permission to someone else’s, a common requirement, she said.
Spalding said she has no issues with Slowik’s business. “If someone is legitimate, knows what they are doing, and convinces us they can operate safely and in compliance, we’ll give them a shot,’’ she said. But Selectman Allin Frawley said the town’s bylaw regulating food trucks could use updating, because such vendors aren’t required to pay taxes in their host community.
“Barring a new law, the town can’t do anything about it, and there is a clear disadvantage to the businesses that do call Middleborough home and pay their share of taxes,” he said.
Beal contends food truck vendors do pay more than their fair share of local taxes.
“We pay DOT tax, property tax for our commissary headquarters in Westwood, employee taxes, as well as all of the fees associated with local permits and licenses for fire, police, health, building, public works, and also fees associated with farmers markets, special events [like the Food Truck Festivals of New England], and more,’’ she said.
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at email@example.com.