The smell of blue cheese fries, Georgia peach salad and gourmet hamburgers will take over Atlanta’s Piedmont Park this weekend as part of the 3rd ever Street Food Festival.
The event introduces food lovers to dozens of food trucks that now call Georgia home.
But the young industry is still experiencing some growing pains.
In Atlanta’s Grant Park, employees are busy in every corner of the Mix'D Up Truck Stop kitchen. There, they prep the burgers and fries that people line up to scarf down from the Mix'D Up food truck.
“I just got my second truck a month, two months ago. So, that’s pretty cool,” says truck owner and chef Brett Eanes.
He moved to Atlanta ten years ago after working in the food truck industry in Los Angeles.But he says Georgia’s regulations make it harder to survive.
Eanes has to get health inspections in every county where he sets up shop.
“One county I’ve got a 94, one county I’ve got a 100.”
That process, he says, is expensive and time consuming.
Greg Smith is president of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition and a former food truck owner. He says the other big problem is that health departments only allow food trucks to set up two locations in each county—stifling a food truck’s mobility.
“We need our vendors to be able to get to more locations,” said Smith. “They’re starving out there with the two location rule.”
To streamline the process, Eanes hopes the state will take over food truck oversight from the counties, but that will likely be a complicated process. In the meantime, he’s getting ready for the Street Food Festival, which he says will help business.
“Financially, yeah. As far as slashing the red tape or correcting something that is a government issue, it’s not. But it’s going to build community support,” said Eanes.
“ We need community support, you know, because if the laws ever change in this next few decades and I’m still around a food truck, we’ll have community support so we’ll instantly have sales.”
The Atlanta Street Food Festival runs on Saturday, July 12 from noon to 8:00 p.m.