WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Before the food trucks can roll into town for a cook-off in downtown Wilmington, some local businesses already want the event to relocate.
The owners of four food trucks have already confirmed for Truck-a-Roo, according to Wilmington Downtown Inc. President John Hinnant. He said the organization specifically chose the first Saturday in November in hopes of drawing a crowd during a quiet, fall day.
"We know it's going to be slow downtown, so we want to attract people downtown," he said.
Regardless of how many people visit before, during, or after the four-hour event, members of the Downtown Business Alliance do not agree with promoting what could be perceived as competition for the existing restaurants in town. President Jim Bitto suggested Greenfield Park instead of the planned location of Water Street, where WDI's Downtown Sundown concert series sets up shop each summer.
"By doing this, you're probably not going to earn a lot of points with the downtown merchants," said Bitto.
Hinnant said a local food festival is exactly what business owners want, according to a recent survey. He compared the one-day event to other downtown activities like Rims on the River or ARTblast, which included a street fair full of vendors. He does not consider Truck-a-Roo to be competition.
"We think that it's going to promote and attract people downtown to support downtown," Hinnant said.
The city of Wilmington has guidelines for operating food trucks downtown, which outline where they can setup and how long they can stay there. WDI's plan for a cook-off event does not include any effort to change those rules.