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New Denver rules restrict number of food trucks in LoDo, hours they can operate

Up to seven food trucks can operate until midnight on weekends
Amore Pizza food truck
Posted at 11:20 AM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 13:20:19-04

DENVER — The city of Denver will allow up to seven food trucks to get permits to operate until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and others will be allowed to operate until 9 p.m. in a certain area of LoDo, under new temporary rules released Thursday.

The updated rules come nearly four weeks after the city essentially banned food trucks downtown after Denver police shot a man and hurt six bystanders, though the city and police department have claimed the move had been in the works prior to the shooting over other safety concerns.

Last week, a Virginia-based law firm warned the city it could face legal action for the ban on food trucks, and food truck operators continued to protest the ban and potential new restrictions.

The city released those new restrictions and rules on Thursday. They will allow up to seven food trucks — four in the 1900 block of Blake Street and three in the 2000 block of Market Street — to operate between 5 a.m. and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Additionally, permitted food trucks will have to stop service at 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, the night before Labor Day, New Year’s Eve, the night before Martin Luther King Day, and the night before President’s Day. They will only be allowed to operate in an area between Wynkoop and Larimer Streets, southwest to Speer Blvd, and between 20th and 22nd Streets to the southeast of Coors Field to Broadway in what the city is calling the “mobile food vendor restricted area.”

Mobile Food Vendor Restricted Area MAP.JPG
The areas where the seven food trucks will be able to operate until midnight are highlighted in yellow. The area where other permitted food trucks will be allowed to operate is outlined in blue.

Food carts and push carts with licenses will be able to operate until midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and the holidays under the new rules.

The city cites “a significant increase in violence and crime” in LoDo and the Union Station area as part of the reason for the rules.

“These rules are meant to increase the safety of all who visit and work in this area by requiring that mobile retail food establishments and similar businesses operate in different locations,” the rules say. “These actions will help to facilitate individuals leaving the LODO and DUS areas after bars and nightclubs close and curb large gatherings of individuals, and reduce the opportunity for conflicts and violence that arise.”

Food truck operators will have to submit a meter permit application at least three days before the permit would take effect, and a food truck business will only be allowed to operate one location at a time.

As the new rules were in the works last week, owners of the Amore Pizza food truck that often operates downtown said forcing the trucks to leave by 9 p.m. or even midnight would severely hamper business.

Changes, lawsuits could come following LoDo food truck ban

“From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. … it’s like 80% of what we do. … It’s still a small business. If you cut off like 80% of what we do, it [leaves] nothing for us,” said Yacine Djaoui, an employee of Amore Pizza. “…We’re not responsible if people are drunk and acting dangerous. We’re making food. That’s all we do.”

Food vendors violating the new rules could be told to leave or face citations, license sanctions or citations, and will have future permit applications denied, according to the rules.

The rules will be in effect from Wednesday for 180 days, which would be Feb. 20, 2023.

“We believe the temporary rules strike the right balance in our efforts to keep people safe and allow mobile food vendors to operate,” Armando Saldate, the executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety, said in a statement. “The rules are intended to prevent large gatherings of individuals on the sidewalks and in the streets when the bars let out on Friday and Saturday nights to reduce the potential for conflict and facilitate the movement of people headed home.”