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KCK food trucks forced to close early after recent enforcement by Unified Government

Posted at 8:32 PM, Apr 24, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On Wednesday, Leonardo Nolazquez pointed out the many food trucks lined near Central Avenue and N. 18th Street in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas," Nolazquez said as he explained all of the various food the trucks make.

But the hours of them actually cooking has decreased significantly.

KCK food truck operators recently spoke at a Unified Government meeting, expressing their concerns over a newly enforced ordinance first established in 2022.

The ordinance limits food truck vending hours.

Nolazquez introduced KSHB 41's Megan Abundis to the food truck owners and their families.

“All of these people are the other food truck owners," he said. “These people, they’re here because they want to survive; their whole lives are in their trucks."

The owners say they’re all worried about the future of their kitchens because the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, started enforcing closing times.

The UG wants all food trucks on Central Avenue and N. 18th Street shut down by 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on the weekends.

“We normally stay until 3 a.m., and that’s when we make the money," Nolazquez said.

Louise Lynch is a regular customer at the food trucks and is standing by their owners.

“In our culture, we tend to eat late," Lynch said. "We really don’t eat until about 7-8 p.m. and start to relax with our family. They would always have customers ... that is their prime time in the evening. Their busiest time is after 8 p.m. up until 2 a.m. When you cut them off at 7 and 8, it costs them more to be there."

A UG representative said they’ve been doing "educational blitz's" where staff and Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department officers told truck operators the rules and to ensure they’re in compliance.

UG staff told KSHB 41 this was because of noise complaints they received, though no citations have been handed out.

"This ordinance was adopted in 2022 as a continuation of the open streets efforts launched during COVID-19 to help businesses," A UG representative told KSHB 41 News. "We had received some complaints about food trucks which is why the education and enforcement blitz is underway."

But truck owners say this was the first they’ve heard of it, and that these hours were never enforced previously.

Because of the shorter hours, Nolazquez said he was forced to let go of staff.

“My uncle has seven workers, and he had to let go of two workers because he cannot afford to pay them," he said. "People are losing money; the families we hire in Kansas are going to be homeless; it's affecting everybody."

Lynch said the enforcement is impacting the livelihood of the owners.

“You take away their ability to survive, you take away the ability for them to support their families and their children," Lynch said.

Nolazquez said he and other owners have been trying to work with the rules, but it's been a one-sided effort on coming up with a solution.

“We’ve been trying to change that, and they don’t want to cooperate; they just want us to go away,” he said.

UG staff said they’re listening to community concerns and are preparing a recommendation for commissioners to change the food truck closure times.

The timing of when that change could take place was unclear because the commission will have to vote on it.

"Food trucks are made for after the restaurants close, after the parties — that’s when people start looking for us, not during the day," he said.