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There was a genuine excitement in The Day newsroom (at least at my desk) last year when the Munchies Food Truck rolled into New London. It seemed like the national food truck trend had made its way to the whaling city. I spent a few good lunch hours eating their burgers, fries, falafel and salads.
Then, Munchies ran into some trouble with the city and the legalities of running the food truck. But for a time I thought the Munchies crew had worked out something to at least spend some time serving up lunch in New London. Although recently it seemed like they had all but vanished from the downtown culinary scene.
I sent an email to the business’ info line and co-owner Aiman Saad wrote back to me. I’ve posted the email bellow. But the short story from Saad is that the legal obstacles of operating in New London just weren’t worth it. Now Munchies is trying to make it work at Electric Boat over the river in Groton and Brown University in Providence.
I’m going to miss them downtown but I wish them luck. Hopefully the Providence angle works for them. Rhode Island’s capital city is a foodie town and Brown has a very open campus where students are known for walking up and down Thayer Street for food at virtually all hours of the day.
Here’s Saad’s email:
“Unfortunately our permit expired on December 31, 2011 and if we are to renew it we must adhere to two ordinances that prevent us from vending in New London. The first one is that we must move every half an hour. This is impossible for a food truck because it takes us 20 minutes to heat up the grill and the fryer then you need to post on Facebook and wait for customers. Our customers would never be able to find us and it would be a safety nightmare. The other ordinance is that no food trucks are allowed in the central business district which means we cannot go downtown. This almost made us go bankrupt this winter since our original plan was to sell to business professionals downtown during the winter months.
“Before we bought our truck we met with the police station and showed them our plan and they approved it. The city knew we were planning to vend downtown and the city manager signed off on our proposal. The police department told us we could park at locations for 2 hours at a time which we did for three months. Then local restaurants complained and 2 city council meetings later we were kicked out of downtown. We fought to keep 1 lunch on Fridays but we could only stay for 2 hours, this crippled our business in New London. We kept vending on Fridays until December 31, 2011 and then we let our permit expire. I met with the new Mayor and he also was unable to help us. Out of desperation we were forced to find other markets like Electric Boat in Groton and Brown University in Providence RI. These locations are not ideal but they are our only options at this point.”