Gourmet food trucks have become a big deal in a lot of American cities over the last few years. But Knoxville is not among them.
Byron Sambat is hoping to change that. Sambat and his wife Nikisha own Savory and Sweet Truck of Knoxville. He says they opened for business last year after seeing cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles teeming with food trucks, each offering hungry customers a wide range of creative and tasty fare.
“Over the past five or six years, we’ve been wondering why isn’t there anything here?” Sambat says.
The reason, he eventually found, is that Knoxville’s regulations for food vendors are confusing and antiquated. For instance, one set of rules requires vendors to serve hot dogs or coffee drinks and milk.
“Since the rule is written that way, (the hot dog vendor) has a monopoly over downtown,” Sambat says. ”If he can be there, why can’t we be there? Just because we’re bringing a kitchen with us?”
Sambat and a handful of other food truck vendors have been talking with city officials about changing the rules so that they could more easily operate within the city limits. One proposal would create a pilot program that could be evaluated after one year.
The City of Knoxville is hosting a public meeting tonight to get input on the proposal.