LocalFood truck blockade: Mobile eateries might be out less this season, owner saysBy KATIE FINLONEmailFollowApril 29, 2018CaptionPhotos by Mark Busch – email@example.com (Caption: Rodrigo Martinez, co-owner and head cook for Tinez Tacos prepares fresh salsa Wednesday in the kitchen at their building in DeKalb.) But one local food truck owner said you might not see a lot of food trucks in DeKalb this year, outside of special events such as farmers markets or DeKalb Corn Fest.CaptionVeronica Garcia-Martinez (shown) is co-owner and business manager for Tinez Tacos in DeKalb, which has one truck and a brick-and-mortar building, 1503 E. Lincoln Highway. It was originally strictly a food truck operation before the restaurant opened in September, but the building has been relegated to a food preparation station because of some city violations, including not having enough parking and incorrect placement of the dining area. The restaurant closed in November, Garcia-Martinez said. Garcia-Martinez said hers was the first food truck to come to DeKalb last year and never had an issue with getting permits from the DeKalb County Health Department in order to be a licensed peddler in the city. However, she said she faced a few obstacles getting her peddler's license from the city every month. Currently, a peddler's permit in DeKalb is good for 30 days at a time, according to the blank copy of the city application. The application fee for the permit is $25 per month, with an added $50 per month fee for mobile food vehicle operation, according to municipal code. DeKalb city officials said there are currently no registered food trucks in the city. There was no information readily available about the number of food trucks in DeKalb in the past few years.Mark Busch - firstname.lastname@example.orgCaptionGarcia-Martinez said she has no problem with abiding by set rules, but that the monthly costs add up for her business after taking employee salaries, power and other material costs into account. She said it would be more cost-effective for her to operate in a place like Sycamore, where it only costs $50 per year for a peddler's permit. Garcia-Martinez said it only takes one complaint for the DeKalb city officials to take away the monthly license. She said she thought it wasn't worth it to continue regular business in DeKalb, so she plans to take the truck to Aurora, which has an annual permit cost option, and Malta for the apple orchard season, and to bring it to Kishwaukee College. "It just feels like the city of DeKalb didn't want us there," Garcia-Martinez said.Caption(Caption: Rodrigo Martinez, co-owner and head cook for Tinez Tacos prepares fresh salsa.) Garcia-Martinez said food truck vendors don't need to fill out an application for the monthly peddler's license for special events in DeKalb, such as Corn Fest and the farmers market. Garcia-Martinez said she has received complaints about the food truck taking away from other brick-and-mortar businesses in DeKalb. Whenever she's at a DeKalb event now, she said, she uses city electricity after receiving complaints from farmers market attendees in DeKalb that her power generator was too loud. She said she also transports her own garbage. Mike Chamness, owner of Mike's Empanadas, said he is no longer in the food truck business and didn't respond to a request for further comment. Garcia-Martinez said his truck didn't work out because of too many restrictions. "And he has good food," Garcia-Martinez said. "When you have good food and you don't make it, you have to ask yourself, 'What's going on there?' "Caption(Photo by Matt Apgar – email@example.com. Caption: Dan Dietz, back, and son Justin Dietz prepare customers' lunches at Slow Smoke BBQ, 265 W. Peace Road, on Friday, April 21, 2017 in Sycamore. The restaurant opened at the location on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.) Dan Dietz, owner of Slow Smoke BBQ in Sycamore, said he was aware of other local food truck owners having problems with DeKalb regulations but never applied for a monthly permit there himself. He said he had a food truck for more than two years before he built his restaurant in Sycamore, 265 W. Peace Road Suite 102, and he recently built a second food truck with locally sourced parts. Dietz said, since he has the restaurant now, his main strategy for his food trucks is to just bring them to special events in the area. "We want to fill the gap," Dietz said. "We don't want to take away from brick-and-mortar restaurants."CaptionGarcia-Martinez said she felt the monthly permit process and fielding complaints in DeKalb taught her to ask the right questions as a food truck business owner. She said people still come to her, and that she continues to guide those who want to start their own trucks through the licensure process. "But they're like, 'Is it true that we shouldn't even bother with DeKalb?' " Garcia-Martinez said. "I'm always going to tell them, 'Don't bother with DeKalb.'" Garcia-Martinez said she loves the people of DeKalb and she knows she has a customer base, so she will always come back to the city for special events. But when people ask her to bring her business back to a DeKalb school or in the downtown area, she said she's bummed to tell them that, not only can she not bring the truck to DeKalb without the monthly permit, but she won't because it's not worth it to her. "It just sucks," Garcia-Martinez said. "I hate to say it, but it sucks." Garcia-Martinez said she will reconsider coming back to DeKalb on a more regular basis if the city reevaluates how it deals with its mobile food vendors. "Change the code, change the fees," Garcia-Martinez said. "Work with us, you know? Don't work against us." DeKALB – With the weather warming up and people starting to spend more time outdoors, local food truck owners say their season is upon us.