Distillery fighting ordinance that prohibits use of food trucks in downtown Royal Oak

Posted at 8:23 AM, Nov 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-12 08:23:06-05

A food truck battle in Royal Oak leads to a public hearing tonight.

A distillery on East Fourth Street, a couple of blocks off of Main Street, is fighting to change an ordinance to allow the use of food trucks.

The current ordinance doesn’t specially address restaurants on wheels but considers them “transient merchants” and those are not allowed downtown.

Motor City Gas Distillery has a tasting room for its whiskey, that’s made on the spot, but what it’s missing is a kitchen.

When owner Rich Lockwood wanted to host food trucks, he didn’t realize the controversy it would cause.

“We do the full process all the way from grain to glass.”

Every inch of Motor City Gas Distillery is used to make whiskey and host tastings.

Even though they allow customers to bring their own food, many don’t.

Lockwood thought it would be fun to have food trucks in his back lot to offer eats with cocktails.

“Pop-up style events than just regular food.”

Turns out he can’t because of an ordinance that bans food trucks.

Now, he’s trying to change that to allow distilleries and breweries without kitchens to rent food trucks that sit on private property.

The issue was addressed at a city commission meeting last month.

The city’s restaurant association and chamber of commerce are against amending the ordinance, saying it will negatively affect restaurants who are already hurting.

Lockwood wants to hammer home the fact that he wants to host food trucks only twice a week.

“We don’t believe that food trucks should be lined up and down Main Street, competing with all the restaurants,” he explained. “Royal Oak has always been such a forward-thinking, progressive city and I feel like what we are trying to do here just follow in the footsteps of doing more of that.”

We reached out last week to the Royal Oak Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce but we haven’t heard back.

There will be a public hearing on the issue tonight at 7:30 p.m at City Hall.