ANDOVER — Mobile food trucks are cooking up a presence in the suburbs, with the uniquely urban idea of roadside dining taking hold in Andover.
But with the offer of a convenient, fast meal comes a challenge for food truck operators — finding a space to work.
Mess Haul — a van sporting B-17 bomber-style decals that first rolled into Andover in May — recently found itself on the wrong end of the town’s local ordinances.
After a busy day serving customers downtown recently, the gourmet food truck offering primarily a breakfast and lunch menu was slapped with a $20 parking ticket after idling in one place for too long.
The mobile operation owned by Andover couple Stefanie Auchterlonie and Mark Stout was ticketed June 28 after parking in front of TD Bank on Main Street.
Stout acknowledged he had parked for around four hours in a space designated as two-hour parking, and had overstayed the allotted time.
“We were busy, we had a line and we just didn’t pay attention” to the time passing by, Stout said.
“This was our own fault,” he added.
The ticket, however, is raising some questions about the town’s relationship with mobile dining operations and where they can operate. While all agree that food trucks must follow the letter of the law and not be given special leniency when it comes to parking regulations, some are suggesting changes might be in order.
Bob Lavoie, chairman of the Andover Chamber of Commerce and a lawyer, said town officials could consider creating designated areas for food trucks instead of having them occupy on-street spots that could otherwise go to downtown customers.
“Until that designated purpose occurs, these are just like any other vehicle on the road,” Lavoie said.
Stout would support having town officials establish a framework for the new ventures to hit town.