Pensacola area food trucks descended on City Hall today for the the first time since Mayor Ashton Hayward’s announcement last month that he would welcome trucks to the downtown location.
Hayward’s announcement came after the Pensacola City Council failed in November to pass a proposed food truck ordinance on second reading. Beginning today, food trucks will set up at City Hall for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Hayward was among a crowd of several dozen people who gathered at lunch to sample offerings from the Cajun Meat Train, Busy Bee, and Rolling Embers Pizza. Hayward enjoyed gumbo from Cajun Meat Train — which he called “fabulous” — as well as fried ribs from Busy Bee.
“This is a great day for Pensacola,” said Hayward. “I think so many citizens over the last three years have been wanting food trucks.” Hayward also called on the city council to pass a food truck ordinance. While there are currently no prohibitions in place, the uncertainty of pending legislation has prompted food truck operators to avoid Downtown Pensacola.
“The goal is to get an ordinance passed, so these entrepreneurs and business owners and risk takers can set up somewhere in the city that’s a win-win,” said Hayward.
Pensacola’s mayor isn’t the only city official showing his support for food trucks, however. City councilman Larry B. Johnson announced yesterday that he had invited food trucks to set up the Azalea Cocktail Lounge, the bar Johnson purchased in 2014.
Johnson has partnered with Ricardo Johnson (no relation), an African-American small business owner who operates the Busy Bee food truck. Johnson’s Busy Bee truck opened for business last April and serves Southern comfort food, including fried chicken, ribs, burgers, and other favorites.
Beginning this Friday, January 8, the Busy Bee food truck will open at the Azalea Lounge beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Friday nights. Patrons will be able to place orders via a mobile app or by phone and enjoy their food inside the lounge.
In a news release, Councilman Johnson said he had been “a consistent advocate for food trucks.” The food trucks ordinance which the city council passed on first reading before voting down a month later was introduced by Johnson.
“I am a big supporter of small businesses and entrepreneurship,” said Councilman Johnson. “When we say that Pensacola is a pro-business city, it’s important that we stand behind that. I’m disappointed that my colleagues on the city council haven’t been able to pass a food truck ordinance, but I am excited to bring food trucks to the Azalea Lounge.”
City Hall’s January schedule for food trucks: