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Crossroads wants food trucks to show them the money, imposes high fee

Food in the Crossroads entertainment district could get a little pricier after a new fee on food trucks is imposed.

Earlier this month, vendors were told by the Crossroads Community Association (CCA) that the association was implementing a “festival permit” for the entire district and, starting August 3, food truck vendors would be confined to a new designated area and must pay $125 to participate.

On Friday, another notice went out informing vendors that the entry fee was $200.

“To me it sounds like somebody’s trying to gouge the food trucks to put money in their pocket,” said Adrian Gardner, owner of Show Me Street Food and Hella Bar-B-Que.

Gardner said he’s been setting up his food trucks during First Fridays for 14 years and has never paid to participate in the monthly event.

“I was part of the building of this,” Gardner said. “It was slow starting out, but there’s never been a fee, always just an open-door welcome.

Prebus Burton, owner of PAB’s Mobile Treats, said he was shocked when he received an email on Friday notifying him of the changes.

“If you’re a food truck owner and depend on First Fridays for income, it’s shocking,” Burton said. “Every food truck owner we’ve talked to has been like, ‘Wow where did this come from?’”

Burton said the increased fee caught him off guard because food truck vendors already pay fees and taxes to the city.

“If we’re already paying the city, then why do we have to pay the Crossroads,” Burton asked? “You expect to pay to get into most festivals that you do, but something like First Fridays has always been free.”

Burton and Gardner said they’ve tried contacting the CCA to no avail. They both want to know what the $200 fee will cover.

“The last email I asked them why the increase,” Burton recalled. “I didn’t get a response. Then I asked where the money was going toward, and I still haven’t got an answer.”

Gardner suspects one reason for the fee is because of how popular food trucks have become.

“Now that it’s really the it thing and you’ve got brick and mortar buildings coming out with food trucks, they see that as income producing, so let’s tap into this resource and get some of it.” Gardner said.

He said covering the fee will likely fall on the customer.

“It’s not just, ‘Oh, it’s $200,’” Garner said. “That fee has to come from somewhere and ultimately, it’s going to come from the paying customer.”

Both food truck owners said they don’t mind paying a small fee ($50-$75) to park in the Crossroads for First Fridays, but they believe vendors should have been part of the decision-making process.

“We need to come up with a better solution because $200 per truck is not answer,” Gardner said. “I mean, we’re bringing customers to this area too.”

In a message to vendors, the CCA outlined that the designated area for food trucks will be between Grand and Baltimore, and that the association will “coordinate trash pickup and oversee several other issues within this location to ensure a satisfactory experience.” The CCA added that “the fee will reduce during slower months.”