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Philly's Food Truck Operators Take Off The Aprons To Testify At City Hall

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- Mobile food truck operators, who are putting out smart concoctions in their restaurants on wheels, are giving Philadelphia City Council members some food for thought on how to accelerate the food truck scene. Operators testified in City Council Chambers about bills to regulate and expand the industry in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Mobile Food Association says current zoning and permitting regulations include outdated definitions that lump them into the larger category of 'street vendors.'

Association President George Bieber, operator of the Sunflower Truck Stop, says the measures City Council is working on would allow the new breed of mobile food trucks to expand to locations beyond the pods that congregate now around 33rd and Arch Streets, The Porch at 30th Street, Love Park, and the Navy Yard.

Deb Dasani operates Samosa Deb's. "As food truck operators, I'm blown away by the quality of food that I see offered by our food trucks," she says.

Rob Mitchell of The Cow and The Curd truck says Philadelphia is watching the birth of a grass-roots movement. "It is the quintessential American dream of small business," he says.

Many trucks grow into brick and mortar restaurants, or like his cheddar cheese operation, steer a different path. "We're a truck that does Wisconsin battered cheese curds," he says. "We are moving into distribution, and hopefully can get our product into area bars and restaurants."

The bills would allow them to set up on private properties, like a university, hospital or church - when invited - to bring their artisan cuisine to different underserved spots, even in-limbo construction sites or lots, like the beer garden pop-ups that have been a big hit.

Jamie Landers, who owns Luscious Bakery Food Truck, says they bring a festival like atmosphere to customers craving a tasty treat. "It allows them to have affordable access to different types of cuisines and foods," says Landers.

The legislation is designed to open up prohibited areas where street and sidewalk vending are not allowed, especially in Center City, and in other neighborhoods, with Council and community organization approval.

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