Tonawanda News

Local News

March 5, 2014

Mudds owner speaks out against food truck proposal

Tonawanda News — Frank Berrafato, the owner of summertime restaurants Mississippi Mudds and Old Man River, argued against a proposal that would allow food trucks to do business in the City of Tonawanda Tuesday night at a council meeting.

“Do I want food trucks in the city? Absolutely not, if I had my choice,” he said. “Do I know they’re coming? Yes.”

In August, the council passed a resolution that required food truck operators to pay a $100 permitting fee for the rest of 2013. The measure also made it illegal for food trucks to operate within 100 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant.

But the law — which mobile vendor operators said was too strict — expired at the end of 2013. Council members have since been discussing new proposals, the most recent of which would institute a $250 annual fee and a 100-foot radius from the nearest brick and mortar restaurant.

Attorney Mitchell Stenger, who represents several Western New York food trucks, said he was pleased the council reduced the fee from what had originally been $1,000 per year, and that under the proposal, the 100-foot radius would be measured from the restaurant’s door, not its closest exterior wall.

The proposal before lawmakers would also permit food trucks to operate in Niawanda Park, a spot they’ve coveted for its large summertime crowds.

“I am encouraged ... that there is a new provision specifically allowing for food truck operation in at least the one designated park of Niawanda,” Stenger wrote in an email.

But Berrafato, whose restaurants are located on Niagara Street across from Niawanda, argued against allowing the trucks in the park.

“I’d call for some kind of limited area where they can go,” he said. “Do you want your park to look like the Erie County Fair?”

He also voiced concern about the radius requirement, and stressed his position as a tax-paying business owner in the city.

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