David Spydell in front of his food truck parked at the Newport Motel.

Food trucks in Claremont: An idea whose time has come?


Submitted 4 months ago

Following on the heels of successful food truck festivals in Lebanon and in Woodstock, Vt., Claremont's city council is looking into what it would take to bring food trucks here. 

The agenda packet for tonight's city council meeting includes a presentation by Food Truck Nation, which looked at barriers to operating food trucks in major cities. The Food Truck Nation study works with a “base case” of a truck generating $250,000 annual profit and employing three full-time employees. 

Food trucks face three barriers to success, according to Roaming Hunger, a food truck data gathering service: Obtaining permits and licenses, complying with restrictions, and operating the food truck itself. All three jack up the price of doing business, so the council will be looking at those barriers and discussing how to make food trucks welcome.  

David Spydell is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who “retired” to running a food truck after 20 years as director of food services for Newport Middle/Senior High School. Spydell lives in Claremont but parks his Spydey's Sandwich Shack food truck in front of the Newport Motel. His is a one-man operation, but he's doing what he always wanted.

“The secret is, you have to care about what you're making,” said Spydell. “I love food.”

Spydell sells simple food done right — bratwurst and French fries, breakfast sandwiches, cheese steak on a hoagie. Prices are reasonable — $7 for a fajita chicken sub — and service, with only one person working, gets slower when things get busier. 

At a previous meeting, Mayor Charlene Lovett and the council discussed allowing food trucks at a lot near the Amtrak station. Spydell expressed some doubts about the idea. 

“You need foot traffic,” he said. “I don't think anybody's going to walk way out there.” 

According to Food Truck Nation, the city of Portland, Oregon is the food-truck friendliest city in the nation, with an approximate cost of $5,410 for permitting costs, and few restrictions on placement. The city does, however, restrict the hours food trucks are allowed to operate. Food truck operators in Portland must make seven trips to city agencies per year and comply with seven procedures. 

At the other end of the scale (and rated a “zero” by Food Truck Nation) is the city of Boston, with a permitting cost of $37,907, and 32 required trips to city agencies within a year. 

Claremont residents interested in trying food truck cuisine are invited to visit the food trucks that will be parked on Water Street, behind the Eagle Times' offices during the month of September. Red River Charitable Foundation, above the Common Man Inn, will be sponsoring the food trucks for the enjoyment of their employees during the foundation's busiest month of the year.

-- GLYNIS HART
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