Portsmouth to allow food trucks to operate downtown, but there is a catch

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PORTSMOUTH, Va.  (WAVY) — Under very specific guidelines, food trucks will now be allowed to operate in Portsmouth’s Olde Towne area.

On Tuesday, City Council voted to lift a restriction that kept food trucks from operating downtown altogether outside of scheduled festivals and concerts.

The mobile food trucks will now be permitted to park and serve customers on private property within downtown, as long as they are operating in tandem with a microbrewery or distillery. 

When the city first imposed regulations on food trucks in 2016, council prohibited the operation downtown in order to not take business away from existing restaurants, according to the Portsmouth Planning Department. 

However, with the opening of Copper and Oak Craft Spirits microbrewery along High Street last year, a memo to the planning commission from the planning department detailed the owners wanted “customers to spend time tasting their product, while having access to food.” 

Businesses with similar operations don’t often serve food, staff wrote. Council had already been allowing food trucks on their microbrewery property outside of the downtown area and city staff goes onto write that they haven’t heard any complaints from restaurants near breweries that currently use food trucks.  

“The amendments meet the City’s goal of promoting economic development by supporting the retention and expansion of existing, successful business,” the planning commission wrote the council.

Food trucks will still have to receive multiple permits from city to do business. 

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