GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis City Commission had the second reading of a mobile concessions ordinance which it passed unanimously Tuesday night.
Harmony Campbell, owner and operator of the Hot Rod Cafe mobile concession, approached the commission last year wanting to set her business up in Gallipolis City Park to operate during lunch hours. Some business owners voiced opposition to the business setting up in the downtown area. Campbell defended the mobile concessions business model, saying her business should be treated as equally as others. Opponents said they felt mobile concessions were too transient and that they would not pay the same “dues” in terms of taxes and other financial responsibilities normally associated with “brick-and mortar” businesses.
City Code Officer Brett Bostic and City Solicitor Adam Salisbury traveled to cities such as Columbus and Athens to get a better understanding of laws dealing with mobile concessions.
“We’re going to try mobile food vending,” Salisbury said in a previous meeting. “You can apply to receive a license for your mobile food vending operation. We are going to have a lottery type draw system where you apply. Your rig is checked out to make sure everything is working and make sure that you have all the required inspections from the Ohio Department of Health. If your application is chosen, you can apply for one of three spots at City Park (that can operate) Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.”
Three spots located on the river side of the park and running parallel to the sidewalk would be available for businesses searching to set up shop as mobile concessions. One spot is also anticipated to be available near the municipal pool and city ball fields. Lottery winners will pay an up-front licensing fee of $1,500 to use the vending zones. The ball field and pool locations will have a licensing fee of $750. Festivals and other irregular civic functions will see mobile concession vendors operating under different parameters.
Commissioners said the new laws are something of an experiment at this time and may be open to revision if more mobile concessions vendors come to sell in Gallipolis.
Campbell voiced reservation at the implementation of a lottery system, saying she felt vendors should be granted licenses on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well as what she considered to be an initial high-cost licensing fee. City officials responded they felt the up-front fee was necessary due to nomadic nature of mobile concessions.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.