Spokane streamlining mobile food business

SPOKANE, Wash. - Food trucks are all the rave in cities like Portland and Seattle while here in Spokane, interest is on the rise but the long permit process is turning some entrepreneurs away.

Right now the city is hosting an open house for current and potential food vendors to get feedback on how the process to become a vendor can be streamlined and made easier for people in the future.

In a parking space, right outside the courthouse every Tuesday, Couple of Chefs Catering cooks up a little bit of everything from burgers, sandwiches to fried Mac and Cheese.

"We decided Spokane needed another food truck," Joile Forral with Couple of Chefs said.

Food trucks

The interest in food trucks is growing, but getting the right permits and going through inspections takes both time and a lot of patience.

"A couple times we had the issue of asking a question and since it's such a new idea and concept people were like 'Oh, I'm not quite sure, let me ask someone else,'" Forral said.

Doug Bickford with D & D Dogs said it took him three months to get on the street grilling hot dogs.

"It definitely kind of turned me off when they said everything that I had to go through," Bickford said.

Marlene Feist with the city said becoming a mobile food vendor can be a cumbersome process.

"We want to be your business partner, not necessarily someone that stands in your way," she said.

That's why the City of Spokane is looking to change things.

"We want to make it more predictable and easier for them to get going," Feist said.

For example, the city currently has a "10 minute" rule in place, which means vendors can't technically be in the same spot for more than 10 minutes. The rule is not strongly enforced but its issues like this, the city wants to clear up.

"I think they need to get together some sort of packet that has all the questions that you should have with the right answers," Forral said.

Each year the health district issues about 80 permits for mobile food vendors.

The city said with events like Pig Out In The Park, and with neighborhood revitalizations, the community could see rapid growth in this industry.

The mobile food scene can really add diversity to neighborhoods around town, and could also help promote walking and encouraging economic growth.