St. Augustine - Food trucks have had their share of tough battles over the years, from being banned on A1A beach, to having to jump through unthinkable hoops just to be able to keep their doors (Windows in this case) open, regardless of the massive popularity and support seen from locals.
Now, a handful of food trucks are asking for public support to keep a right that they were already granted.
The latest struggle concerns the new food truck park being built right now on the island. The Village Garden Food Truck Park is set to be located on Old Beach Road and A1A. They look to provide residents with a fun place to gather, enjoy live music, spend time with friends, eat great local food from over 5 different trucks, and relax with a few drinks.
So what's the problem? Initially, there wasn't any issue at all.
In a 5-1 decision by the planning and zoning board, Village Garden was granted the right to sell beer and wine to their future patrons. Their plans, like many food trucks in the past, have been met with some pushback.
A few members of the nearby "Menendez Community" believe that the food trucks should have this decision rescinded, and have filed an appeal with the County.
"The fact of the matter is that the people in this community are hopefully going to be my future patrons, so I am willing to go above and beyond to make sure we can co-exist in a positive way," says Brendan Schneck, owner of Big Island Bowls food truck, and an instrumental part of bringing the Village Gardens to the beach community.
Schneck says he has gone above and beyond, and done everything possible to be accommodating to his new neighbors, including personally delivering hand written letters to everyone in the community, which included his personal cell phone number so that they could call with any concerns, visiting community meetings in order to answer any questions that residents had, and even agreed to meet concerns regarding live music, which he said he will now limit to no later than 9pm.
As for concerns over beer and wine being served in the area, Schneck notes, "This site was previously a commercial property that has always been zoned commercial, and was originally a full service restaurant with a 2COP serving beer and wine until 2am. Our property meets all the criteria to obtain a 2COP and was approved by the planning and zoning board in a 5-1 decision."
Some residents however are still not satisfied, claiming that selling beer and wine will do more to increase traffic, accidents, and noise in an "already dangerous" section of the island.
Schneck points out that less than a block down the road, the Anastasia Diner was recently granted the same license with no pushback, even though the diner backs up to the very same neighborhood. He also sites the fact that there have only been three traffic accidents on old beach road, which would indicate that the area in question has not posed much of a danger.
It should be mentioned that Salt Life, and a number of other establishments that serve beer and wine are less than a mile from the truck park.
Many in the area are in support of the food truck park keeping its rights to serve beer and wine.
"I am a member of the Menendez Park Community and I DO support the Village Garden Food Truck Park in being allowed to serve beer and wine," says Sharon Stevens, who signed a petition to allow the license by the Village Garden.
"This is a hard working family who have the communities interest always in mind. They will respect the right to serve Beer and wine," says Richard Rooker.
Another person who signed the petition wrote, "What a great way to support LOCAL business! It’s amazing how easily establishments like salt life have really loud music and drinks every night while at the same time putting up barriers for the small people that actually live in the area."
Brendan Schneck and others hope to bring the total experience and good vibes to locals soon, and are looking for more help in supporting their efforts. They have a petition circulating >>>> HERE, and are asking food truck supporters to show up with them in front of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners on April, 17th at 10am to show support.
You can also follow them on Facebook at The Village Garden FTP page for updates. They're asking for as much support as they can get so that their already granted permissions aren't taken revoked by county government.