Maggie Valley board walks back food truck decision

The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen will revisit a decision it made Tuesday night regarding food trucks after several aldermen seem to have had a change of heart. Tuesday night the board voted not to grant the Harvest Moon Crepes food truck a special event permit to operate in the parking lot of Tony’s Tube World during its hours of operation. The vote was 3-2 with Tammy Wight and Phillip Wight voting in favor of allowing the food truck to operate, and Mayor Mike Eveland, John Hinton and Jim Owens voting against.

“Oftentimes a special event permit lists a specific date or a specific time,” said Town Planner Kaitland Finkle. “As you all know, the weather has been quite variable this year so it’s pretty difficult to say when they’re going to be able to set up at Tony’s Tube World, because unfortunately Tony’s Tube World hasn’t had very many open days yet. So their request is for the season, ending this spring.” The permit would allow the food truck to operate only during Tony’s Tube World operating hours, throughout the season.

The truck would also have to be pulled on and off site; it could not remain on the property overnight.

“I can’t,” said Eveland. “I’m concerned, right across the street we have a business that is thriving because of Tony’s Tube World, they work hard. I know we have a new vendor that’s over there at the Shell Station.” This seemed to be the primary and only concern of the three aldermen who voted against the special event permit — competition.

All three spoke about their fears that the food truck would create unfair competition for surrounding restaurants. Specifically Birdies Snack Shack inside Soco Shell Gas Station and Grocery and Brickhouse Burgers and Pizza. “Tony’s Tube World plays an important role in keeping our winter season alive,” said Tammy Wight. “They attract tourists, locals and those from surrounding areas.

I’m not sure that my fellow board members are aware that there are approximately five snow tubing businesses within one to two hours from here. All of which offer food and drinks. Out of these five, three are within a one-hour drive, out of those three, two have food trucks on site and one has a concession stand.

Having a food truck on site would allow them to compete with businesses in the surrounding area.” Tammy Wight also noted that the menu the food truck offers is unique, not offered anywhere else in the valley. “I feel by allowing the food truck, it is a way to give back and say thank you,” she said.

Currently, food trucks are not allowed to operate in Maggie Valley unless they are part of, and on site of, an established business, or are participating in a special event, like those that take place at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. Maggie Valley launched a Food Truck Pilot program during the last three months of 2021 to gather information about the possibility of allowing food trucks in the valley, but the issue has not been revisited as of yet. “We think that there’s a need out there,” said Co-owner of Harvest Moon Crepes Dan Deas. “We were there just last weekend and there were a lot of people standing around, they don’t have any concessions or anything there at Tube World.

I think that there’s a need and it could make it a better experience for the people that come.” Co-owner Amy Deas described the menu to the board: hot drinks, sweet and savory crepes — food and drink that are easy to walk around with and don’t involve utensils. Aldermen Hinton and Owens both expressed their concern for surrounding businesses.

However, Tammy Wight noted that because the menus differ so much, it is highly unlikely that the food truck would be taking customers from the nearest sit-down pizza joints. “If we’re not going to allow special exceptions at special events, then that too needs to be taken off the UDO, because we have people coming in and asking for things that we’re not allowing them to have,” said Tammy Wight. “And I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to say that we’re not going to allow any competition for restaurants but then everybody else in business has competition and that’s not fair.” “My only concern is that winter is our slimmest season, so I’m also concerned about making sure we protect the restaurants that are here and still open and in business this time of the year,” said Owens.

“I mean we need to consider Tony’s Tube World who are bringing these guests here and all of their competition serves food and drink,” replied Tammy Wight. Phillip Wight noted that the application fits the special event permit, that this is an allowed use under the town ordinance, that the hours don’t directly conflict with surrounding businesses and that what the food truck has to offer is a unique product. Tammy Wight made the motion to grant the special event permit to Harvest Moon Crepes, but with three aldermen voting no, it did not pass.

Several residents walked out of the meeting aghast after the decision was made, some voicing their disbelief in frustrated expletives. The owners of Harvest Moon Crepes were polite in the face of their rejection. However, there seems to have been a change of heart regarding the food truck.

Midday Wednesday, the board decided to call a special called meeting for 3 p.m.

Friday to address the issue again.

Eveland told The Smoky Mountain News that it appears a majority of the board is now in favor of allowing the special event permit for Harvest Moon Crepes.