Local food trucks hope new rest area setups can help bring back lost revenue

Coronavirus

ODOT says food trucks can't advertise where they're going to park, so finding a hot spot will be a challenge

(WKBN) – Ohio truckers have a new place to find a meal: rest stops. There are 86 rest areas around the state.

The Federal Highway Administration decided to temporarily suspend regulations that do not allow commercial activity at rest areas.

Two local food truck operators talked about a small mix-up over the new rule and this new chance to find hungry people.

On Tuesday, food truck operators were anxious to park in a new location, and as The Alternative found out, you also needed to pick a legal place.

“You can service the rest areas on the interstate but not on the turnpike,” said Greg Saunders, operator of The Alternative food truck.

Saunders had to pack up and went to find an ODOT rest area.

Alan Franco, operator of the Taste of N’awlns food truck, was prepping for a dinner run. He’s hoping to find a new place that could be a recipe for success.

“Eighty percent of our business is events. We’ve already lost March, April, May and most of June. So far, that’s $90,000. We’re struggling right now,” Franco said.

“And with no food truck rallies going on right now, it’s a terrible situation trying to make a living,” Saunders said.

Travel is down under the state’s stay-at-home order, which started three weeks ago.

ODOT says food trucks can’t advertise where they’re going to park, so finding a hot spot will be a challenge.

“That’s the problem. I don’t want to over prep because we just don’t know what to expect. I’ve been throwing away a lot of food because business is slow. So I’ll go there with what I got and if we fell out, I know what to prepare for next time,” Franco said.

The only drink that food trucks can serve is coffee. The rest stop vending machines that sell pop are run by Visually Impaired Ohioans, and ODOT didn’t want to hurt them during these temporary permits.

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