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Atlanta Street Food Feasibility Study

Atlanta Street Food Feasibility Study

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Published by Mike Cutno

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Published by: Mike Cutno on Sep 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Table of Contents
Executive Summary
3Street Food Policy
5Urban Design Study
12Economic Impact Study
23Food Environment Study
31Appendix A Survey Results
42Appendix B Maps
44Appendix C Setback Diagram
53Appendix D Team Profiles
On the surface, a business that sells food from a truck toa person standing on a sidewalk is simply a place to getfood. Food is exchanged for money, the customer eatsand leaves. Look deeper and you will see that thecustomer is not just paying for a delicious $2 dollar taco, but for the experience of being connected to theurban community as a whole.It is only recently in our history as city dwellers thatcommerce has become detached from culture. Our citieswere once full of butchers, produce vendors, craftsmenand other small business entrepreneurs that were apartof the community. Daily commerce connected peoplethrough transactions – goods were exchanged but soideas, stories and information.Today, when people crowd outside of a food truck, meetnew people on the street, and talk to vendors on thetruck, they are experiencing something new andunfamiliar that was once a part of every day life – interaction on the street. It is the ability to provide thisshared experience, in the public realm, that makes streetfood so appealing.Street food businesses have grown tremendously inother cities across the country. Portland, Oregon hadthirty-five food carts in 2007. Today, Portland is hometo over 450 carts. Los Angeles recently attracted over 20,000 people to the annual LA Street Food Fest. Streetfood has proven to be a good model for small businesses in those cities.Atlanta has small business entrepreneurs who haveopened street food ventures. There are plenty of residents who want food trucks and food carts on our streets. Yet, it is rare to see a vendor operating on a day-to-day basis. That’s because there are major challengesthat make it difficult for vendors to operate profitably inAtlanta.The first major challenge is the costs associated withopening a business. Vendors must purchase a cart or truck that complies with health codes. A large truck designed specifically to comply with health codes for onboard cooking can cost more than $100,000 (like the Nom Nom truck on page 17). In Georgia, as in other states like California, vendors must prepare (andsometimes cook) their food at what is called a “base of operations,” complete with a kitchen, storage area, andtruck servicing area. In California, vendors pay rent touse a “shared kitchen” that also hosts other vendors andreduces operational costs. Local health departmentshave chosen to restrict vendors to one business per approved kitchen.Once a vendor is able to overcome the costs associatedwith opening a business they face regulatory challengesfrom the City of Atlanta (or other city in GA) and their respective county health department. The City of Atlanta has a Public Vending Program that isoutsourced to Growth Management, a company locatedin Chicago. The contract with Growth Management wassigned by Mayor Shirley Franklin and considered asuccess at the time. Growth Management’s contract isfor twenty years and presides over all public property(not parks) including sidewalks and streets. Thecompany leases small kiosks to vendors, mostlydowntown, at rates that exceed $1,000 dollars per month. The contract prevents the City from allowingvending in any one place without the company’s permission. The Food Code of Georgia also haslimitations on location. Mobile food units, their namefor food carts and trucks, must name two locationswhere they can be found. These limitations restrict theeconomic potential of street food businesses in Atlanta.There are vendors and supporters of street food who areready to face these challenges. The Atlanta Street FoodCoalition partnered with Central Atlanta Progress andLanier Parking Solutions to support the Atlanta Street
Executive Summary

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