Momentum builds for more food trucks in Fayetteville - WNCN: News, Weather

Momentum builds for more food trucks in Fayetteville

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -

Thanks to recent efforts, Fayetteville may be on the verge of some major growth in the number of food trucks in the city.

A recent update to city law makes it much easier for food trucks to set up in Fayetteville. The "R Burger" food truck is the first example of how the change is helping entrepreneurs who are interested in operating a food truck business.

Rob and Mary Russell who run R Burger opened just last month. They are one of only about three food trucks in Fayetteville, and they are the first to get going under the new city law.

"We're cutting edge I guess you could say based on everything that's out there," Rob said.

The Russells had a steady ebb and flow of customers around lunchtime Friday. They were set up outside AIT in downtown Fayetteville. That is where customers can find them every Friday, but they travel to other spots the rest of the week. Customers find them just by passing by or on social media.

Mary said they did not exactly set out to be trailblazers. It was simply the right time for them to pursue the idea, and they realized they may be paving the way for others.

"That's kind of fun to be out front and be the leaders and maybe be in the spotlight a little bit more, which sometimes is good and sometimes not so good," she said.

It may be not so good because the Russells could not just coast along in the process to set up a food truck in Fayetteville. There was no process. So they nudged the city along for an updated law that would help make their dream a reality. They also got some help from the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development (CEED).

"We like to think with the help of CEED we actually got the city ordinance changed," Rob said.

For a while now CEED has thought of food trucks as a good business opportunity for entrepreneurs in Fayetteville. Food trucks cost less to start up, and CEED can help with business advice, classes and other guidance like they offered R Burger.

"We're here to help small businesses grow because it helps all of us in the city," explained Lexi Hasapis, the Director of the Women's Business Center within CEED.

Hasapis said when the Russells came to CEED looking for advice, it was a perfect opportunity to foster growth in food trucks. She said city leaders seemed ready to make change that would help.

"It's just something that we've all identified at the same time and said let's move forward in a positive manner to help these entrepreneurs," Hasapis said.

The Russells said they are happy to finally be open after months of planning. They also seem to be comfortable in their role as Fayetteville food truck pioneers.

"Hopefully it might make it easier for those who want to go on this adventure later," Mary commented.

They said there is plenty of room for more people who want to do what they are doing. Hasapis said she is aware of about 15 other people who have expressed interest in starting a food truck in Fayetteville. So more trucks may be on the horizon.

"We need some," Rob said. "Fayetteville is a growing area."

CEED is also working to start a shared commercial kitchen to help entrepreneurs in the food business. The kitchen, which is being built in a renovated warehouse, would be available for food truck operators, caterers or others who want to start a business that involves cooking food. The goal is for the kitchen to serve as an incubator for those entrepreneurs – a place for them to start and then grow into larger operations on their own elsewhere. The kitchen incubator is expected to be ready next year.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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