At long last, Memphis is poised to list food trucks among its dining options. City councilman Jim Strickland proposed a new ordinance recently that will allow for food trucks or "mobile food preparation vehicles" to set up and serve in parking spaces around town.
What makes food trucks different from food carts (which are already permitted in Memphis) is the degree of food preparation in the vehicle's kitchen. By sanctioning items other than hot dogs, prepackaged cold sandwiches, sno-cones, and ice cream, the new ordinance would open up the possibility for a multitude of culinary treats to be prepared on-site and made to order. Think of tacos, hot sandwiches, perhaps even sushi ...
There are restrictions. The ordinance states food trucks cannot come within 50 feet of a restaurant in the Central Business Improvement District (the CBID is the core of downtown), within 300 feet of a restaurant outside the CBID, and within 1,000 feet of a special event. Vendors must also adhere to a somewhat bizarre schedule: Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. only, food trucks may park in one spot for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of two hours. When the two-hour time limit is up, the truck must move from the spot for at least one hour before returning to do business. In addition, the truck can only set up on any one block a total of three times in one day. Residential streets are off-limits without a special-use permit.
The trucks also will be subject to Health Department standards. Some food items, like raw shellfish, won't be allowed. And you can put the kibosh on dreams of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, because "any unclean paper for the purpose of wrapping food is forbidden."
The council approved the ordinance, which will now go through three readings before it becomes law. Strickland says May is the earliest that food trucks will hit the streets.
The Cosmic Coconut, a personal health-and-everything-else blog by Ashley Dunn, is evolving into an organic juice bar located a few doors down from Muddy's Bake Shop in East Memphis. Dunn will serve organic juice, smoothies, coffee, and tea.
"We're looking to shoot for 90 percent organic," Dunn says. "For instance, the coconuts aren't organic, but the filtration process that the meat and the water in the coconut goes through, there's nothing in there."
Young Thai coconuts are the basis for the eponymous smoothie, the Cosmic Coconut: coconut meat, coconut milk, frozen bananas and pineapple, and stevia sweetener. Dunn plans on keeping the store completely vegan. Agave sweetener, plant-based milks, fresh fruits and greens, locally grown wheatgrass, and organic coffees and teas will form the bulk of the ingredients list.
While she is focusing on drinks and smoothies to begin with, Dunn will also serve guacamole, hummus, applesauce, and her raw vegan chocolate pudding.
The 1,400-square-feet space includes a big farm table, smaller tables, and couches to encourage lounging. In the evenings, she plans to rent out the space for small gatherings. "I would love to use the shop for people who are doing an adult betterment program, like the Artist's Way workshops," she says. "I'd also like to do speed dating and fun things like that."
The Cosmic Coconut is scheduled to open April 11th and will operate from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. After a few months, Dunn would like to extend the hours to 4:30 p.m. to catch the after-school crowd.
The Cosmic Coconut, 5101 Sanderlin