Institute for Justice · May 9, 2019

For the first time this Friday, Fort Pierce residents will be able to enjoy food truck food in downtown Fort Pierce.

Just a few months ago, it was illegal for food trucks to operate within 500 feet of any establishment that sells food. That essentially blocked food trucks from doing business in Fort Pierce, since, no matter where the people are, there is almost always a restaurant or convenience store within 500 feet. But after a lawsuit brought by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of Taco Trap’s owner Benny Diaz and Creative Chef on Wheels’ owner Brian Peffer, a Florida Circuit Court ordered the city to stop enforcing its unconstitutional ban. Finally, Benny, Brian and other food truck owners are free to do business in Fort Pierce.

“I’m excited about the new opportunities for me and other food truck owners,” Benny said. “This change is good for Florida food truck owners and the people of Fort Pierce, who now have so many more food options.”

Benny will get the chance to sell his delicious tacos in Fort Pierce for the first time this Friday night, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Bottom’s Up Public House. He already has heard from fans of his Taco Trap food truck who plan on being there.

While the new legal status of food trucks is good for vendors and consumers, their benefits extend to the entire city. According to Upwardly Mobile, an IJ report, food trucks and other vendors help boost the overall economy of cities. “They become an attraction and increase the number of people in your downtown,” said Tom Richards, the city manager of Harbor Springs, Michigan, after his city started allowing food trucks.

But it does not take a city official to recognize the innate benefits of food trucks. Al Beltran, the general manager of Public House, expressed excitement about the benefits Taco Trap and other food trucks will be able to provide his business.

“Having food trucks being able to operate in Fort Pierce is huge. You want to have the customer leave happier than when they arrive. The more they can enjoy, the better off they are,” he said.

Al says he plans on hosting food trucks on other Fridays in the future to offer a late-night option to Fort Pierce residents. “Once the restaurants close, we have a great addition,” he said.

“The right for food truck owners to do business in Fort Pierce is quite new, but the benefits are already obvious,” IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson said. “Expanding economic freedom helps businesses thrive and gives consumers more options.”

IJ fights for vendors’ rights across the country through its National Street Vending Initiative. IJ lawsuits in San Antonio, El Paso, Texas, Carolina Beach, North Carolina, and Louisville, Kentucky, have successfully eliminated protectionist laws that banned food trucks from operating near their brick-and-mortar competitors. IJ is also litigating food truck cases in Baltimore, Chicago and Fish Creek, Wisconsin.