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Food Trucks Come To Pensacola City Hall

Georgia Barrett

The debate over allowing food trucks in Pensacola may not be over, but those mobile businesses celebrated a milestone in downtown Pensacola Thursday.  

Credit Georgia Barrett / WUWF News
Customers line up for lunch at the Cajun Meat Train

A.J. took some time out from chopping onions in the Cajun Meat Train food truck Thursday morning, getting ready for the first day of serving lunch in the parking lot of Pensacola City Hall. "[We're] feeling great and hoping it opens eyes to everyone around and we get to park in some more places around town. Hopefully something good comes out of it and I'm excited and optimistic."

There’s good reason for the food truck owners to be optimistic. The debate about allowing food trucks in the city has been going on for years. Last month, Mayor Ashton Hayward announced he will allow mobile businesses to operate in the city hall parking lot, near the Main and Spring Street corner, three days a week.

Credit City of Pensacola
The schedule of food trucks for the month of January at Pensacola city hall.

"It's government working with the people" said Rick Johnson, who runs the Busy Bee Al fresco truck. "There has been some confusion about whether or not we wanted food trucks in town, so we're really looking forward to having this opportunity to show that we can work together as a food industry."

The trucks will be operating at City Hall every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 until 8 p.m. for dinner. Later in the month a coffee truck will be set up from 7 until 9 a.m. for breakfast. That didn’t stop one enterprise from getting an early start.

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Cathy Saxton of Rolling Embers and her wood fired veggie pizza (missing one slice for Bob)

   "We've been here since 4:30 [this morning], we've done several breakfast pizzas. It's been great!" Cathy Saxton from Rolling Embers Wood Fired Pizza was on site with her family getting ready for the lunch crowd Thursday morning. She hopes that this will be the beginning of allowing food trucks in the city every day. "It's up to the city and I think it's a fantastic idea."

The trucks will be scheduled to set up at city hall on a rotating basis. Denise Shelton of Pensacola Cooks Kitchen will be managing that rotation. And while the early crowd for lunch was kind of sparse on a 50 degree day, Saxton believes that when the weather warms up the crowds will come. "Oh gosh, the summer will pick up a lot! We'll be very busy this summer."

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.