Drift In food cart has city’s support

Drift In food cart has city’s support
The Drift In in Bradenton Beach wants to provide late night food service in the form of a hot dog cart. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – City commissioners support Drift In owner Joe Cuervo’s desire to add a late-night hot dog cart to his business operations.

Cuervo and Chef Stephen Ascencious discussed the proposed food cart vending operations with commissioners at the Tuesday, Sept. 10, work meeting.

Cuervo said the late-night food service would take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and start around 10 p.m. as to not compete with the nearby restaurants on Bridge Street.

Cuervo offered to contribute up to $1,000 toward the city’s efforts to amend its land development code (LDC) to allow for food carts – something city code currently prohibits.

“I will pay for it. I think we really need this cart out there for people,” Cuervo said of his desire to make food available along Bridge Street after 10 p.m.

The work meeting discussion resulted in Mayor John Chappie and Commissioners Ralph Cole, Marilyn Maro and Jake Spooner directing city staff to process an LDC amendment to allow food concession vending carts to operate within the city. The commission also agreed to accept Cuervo’s offer to contribute up to $1,000 to the LDC amendment efforts.

The proposed LDC amendment will require preliminary review and a recommendation from the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.

City Planner Alan Garrett said it might take until December to get the proposed LDC amendment before a planning board that must have at least three of its five current members in attendance to form a voting quorum. The LDC amendment also will require two advertised public hearings before the city commission.

Garrett said the LDC amendment would only allow food carts to operate on private property in the city’s C-2 commercial zoning district. This would apply to food vending carts only and would not eliminate the existing prohibition on food trucks.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry said the food cart operations must take place in the Drift In parking lot and cannot impede pedestrian traffic on the nearby sidewalk. She also said the food cart must be removed each night.

Police Chief Sam Speciale said he supports making late night food service available to people out drinking later at night. Speciale said his only concern is to ensure the amended LDC does result in food carts being parked all over the city – or result in a previous practice of having “girls in T-backs” operate hot dog carts at city street ends.

Ascencious told the commission he has a catering license and he only knows of one other fully licensed hot dog cart doing business between St. Petersburg and Venice. Due to the onerous licensing process, Ascencious does not envision an influx of food cart vendors trying to do business in Bradenton Beach.

Building Official Steve Gilbert said any other proposed food cart operations would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Before the work meeting, Ascencious’ wife, Katie, said the hot dog cart would also serve Cuban sandwiches, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, bratwursts and things of that nature.

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