A Leesburg-based microbrewer is hoping the Town Council will see the merits of allowing food trucks in the town’s business districts.
Phil Fust, owner of Loudoun Brewing Company, said he plans to invite Leesburg Town Council members to his East Market Street brewery on Saturday, the last day the brewer will be hosting a food truck for the foreseeable future.
That’s because the Town Council did not find majority support, via a straw poll conducted during its Dec. 11 work session, to allow food trucks in the town’s business districts, including the downtown historic district. Town Manager Kaj Dentler said the town staff would now begin enforcing the food truck prohibition. Citations have not been issued previously, to allow the council to debate the issue.
In November, the council passed measures that now allow food trucks in the town’s industrial and employment center districts on both public rights of way and private property. But, when it came to considering allowing them on private property in the business districts, there were only three council members—Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox and council members Ron Campbell and Vanessa Maddox—that voiced support. The proposal would have expanded their allowance into the historic downtown, along the East Market Street corridor, and even to the Village at Leesburg.
Downtown microbreweries in particular have been outspoken in their support for allowing food trucks on private property, with many hosting food trucks during the busy weekends to offer patrons something to complement their brews. Council members opposing the measure said they were concerned about the potential impact on brick and mortar restaurants.
Fust said that his staff supports area restaurants, too, offering patrons menus and contact information for all nearby restaurants that will deliver food to the premises.
“Lots of people still order from the restaurants but the food trucks are still willing to come. So, it isn’t one or the other, it is symbiotic. We want to be able to do both things,” he said.
Fust said no longer being able to host food trucks on the property will be a “detriment to our business, for sure.” He is bracing to feel the financial impact come January.
“We’re already preparing for that, if that’s really the case and it stands,” he said. “We’re preparing to do whatever else we can do.”
In anticipation of that, he is inviting Town Council members to come by the brewery Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m., in hopes of raising awareness that allowing food trucks on private property is not such a bad thing after all. He will be asking brewery guests Saturday to sign a sheet if they are in favor of allowing food trucks and indicating whether they are a town resident to show council members that there is money coming into Leesburg’s coffers via out-of-town visitors.
Fust and others affected by the council’s decision are hopeful that the victor in February’s Town Council special election can tip the scales in favor of expanding food truck allowances. He said he has already been in contact with the candidates running in that election.
“The tides can turn, but I think we need the public to know what their decisions are,” that food trucks are not even allowed on private property, Fust said. “These blanketing decisions just seem to be a little over-reaching.”
Black Walnut Brewery is another downtown brewery that regularly hosts food trucks on its property. Its owner, Patrick Wilt, has expressed support for expanding food truck allowances in the past. He declined comment for this article.