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Do food trucks have a future downtown?

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Organizers of a food truck summit are drawing Rochester residents out of the comment sections and Facebook volleys to come together in a constructive conversation — and enticing participants with lunch from seven food trucks at one location.

Seven local food trucks and mobile food service providers will set up shop in the Kutzky Market parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Rochester Trolley and Tour Company will provide transportation from downtown Rochester to the event and back.

Charette Happens, a mobile center for community design and fast-paced, forum-style conversation, will facilitate a food truck brainstorm session.

The summit and community conversation is a response to the recent and much-discussed tribulations of BB's Pizzaria, a food truck that was chased from its downtown location only to return in virtually the same location . City ordinances ban food trucks on public streets, but BB's found a spot on private property.

"There was a surprising lack of leadership about what to do about the problem — and people clearly recognized there was a problem," said Adam Ferrari, Design Rochester director.

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Ferrari created Charette Happens with Kickstarter funding in 2012, and shortly after, it was incorporated by nonprofit organization Design Rochester.

"I've known about this ordinance for a long time, and I'm glad that there was this polarizing event, and now, we have an opportunity to progress as a community," Ferrari said.

The Charette Happens session will take place throughout the three-hour time window for the summit, with visitors able to give input as they come and go. Ferrari described the atmosphere as "structured brainstorming" that could form principles and key aspects for city officials to consider in addressing the food truck ordinance.

"I think primarily the focus will be around downtown because the language of the ordinance becomes extremely restrictive in the urban context. I think there'll be a lot of discussion on what is 'downtown,' what are the urban areas, what is the central business district, and then questions of how (food trucks) should operate," Ferrari said.

The summit aims to be the beginning of a needed conversation about how the city will address food trucks in the future by engaging all stakeholders and taking proactive steps, a Kutzky Market news release said.

Food truck attendees scheduled to attend are: Old Abe Coffee Co., BB's Pizzaria, Don's Crumbled Beef, Anthony's Wood Fired Pizza, El Carambas, Mama Meg's Parlour and Tonic Local Kitchen and Juice Bar.

Transportation from downtown will board at the Marriott, 101 First Ave. SW. A trolley will run every 15 minutes, beginning at 11 a.m. The last trolley will leave the market for downtown at 2 p.m.

"Come for design or come for the food, but either way, it should be a lot of fun," Ferrari said.

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What:  Food trucks serving food and a discussion the future of food trucks in Rochester from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Kutzky Market parking lot, 1005 Sixth St. NW. Rochester Trolley and Tour Co. will provide transportation from downtown Rochester to the event and back.

Why it's important:  Food trucks have become a key source of lunch in cities' downtowns. Although Rochester has a large number of workers downtown, it also has an ordinance banning food trucks on public streets, which has limited them. Some hope to change that.

Related Topics: FOOD
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