Food Phenomenon Makes It’s Way to Lee’s Summit

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Lee's Summit is in the midst of a food fight. It all started last fall when two food trucks rolled into Downtown.

"I'm not against them, but I'd like to have some absolute, clearly defined rules with regards to them," said Downtown Deli owner Tammy Tyner. "If we do it now then we don't have to backtrack later and say, 'Oh we rushed it and now look what we've got - we've got a mess over here and we've got a mess over here.'"

Tyner has a variety of concerns.  Her biggest is that the food trucks will change the ambiance of the historical downtown.  She also worries over the food trucks' generator noise and the number of parking spaces the trucks use.   will deter folks from visiting.

"It's not about me," said Tyner.  "It's about the historical preservation of downtown Lee's Summit.  That is what I'm concerned for.  I just want it to be done the right way.  To take the time and do it the right way."

While the food truck phenomenon is trending across the nation, these two trucks are the first of their kind in Lee's Summit, in part because of Anthony Olsen.  He owns Neighborhood Cafe, which has a physical location in downtown Lee's Summit, and the new food truck Rolling Cafe.

"The food truck is so flexible," said Olsen. "We can take [Rolling Cafe] to places we can't reach normally and outside of downtown Lee's Summit.  That opens up a lot of other avenues to go to businesses, to go to office parks, jobs sites. It really gives us the reach to go to different parts of the city."

Olsen started the Rolling Cafe food truck as a way to serve the bar crowd and bring more activity to downtown after hours.

"Having a physical location down here as well, we're kind of thinking about it on both sides," said Olsen. "We want to make sure it doesn't hurt the business that's already here. And we want to make sure it adds to the downtown, that adds something else down here and a draw for more people to come down here."

While there are very few rules at present, within the next 90 days the city will put some regulations in place.

"It's to be fair to both sides," said Robert McKay, Lee's Summit's Director of Planning and Development. "We want to make sure that both sides have an opportunity to provide us with input and then let staff do the legwork and find out what other communities are doing and come to a reasonable outcome for both sides."

The fate of the food truck lies in the hand of the Lee's Summit City Council. But, first, the Community Development Committee will meet and discuss the matter with other businesses.  That meeting will take place on Jan. 18, 2012 at 6 p.m.

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