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Just in Time for Food Truck Season, Detroit Has New Rules for Mobile Vendors

Food trucks can now operate in four zones in downtown and Midtown

Customers line up to place orders at the many food trucks posted up in Cadillac Square
GB in Detroit
Serena Maria Daniels is the editor for Eater Detroit.

It’s food truck season in Detroit once again. And with it, the city’s newly amended food truck ordinance has taken effect. As part of the retooled policy, the City Council passed a resolution in April that outlines four designated “food unit zones” in the central business district in downtown and cultural center vending area in Midtown, that is supposed to give food truck owners a clearer picture of where they can set up shop.

In downtown, food trucks can do business in two zones — one bounded by Cass, Third, Howard, and Bagley and the other bounded by Beaubien, Rivard, Jefferson, and Atwater. The two cultural center zones are bounded by John R, Hendrie, Brush, and Palmer and John R, Warren, Brush, and Forest. The central business district’s vending area is defined by the Detroit River, Brooklyn Avenue, West Jefferson Avenue, Eighth Street, West Fort Street, Porter Street, John C. Lodge Freeway, I-75, Third Street, West Grand River, Temple Avenue, Fourth Street, Charlotte Street, Woodward Avenue, Rivard Street, Atwater Street, and Riopelle Street. According to the resolution, food unit zones must be approved by City Council every two years.

Outside of these areas, the city’s Department of Public Works will post signs in locations where mobile food operators are not allowed to do business. Under the new rules, which took effect on April 30, food trucks must adhere to a curfew of 11 p.m., follow all parking rules, and may not operate within 200 feet of brick and mortar restaurants and schools, and 300 feet from entertainment and sports arena areas.

The newly established zones come as the Downtown Detroit Partnership kicks off its summer Street Eats programming. Considered the largest food truck rally in Michigan, this year’s offerings feature a rotating lineup of more than 80 mobile restaurants posted up at Cadillac Square and the Woodward Esplanade (the outdoor plaza facing the Spirit of Detroit monument) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. most weekdays.

This year’s cast of food truck offerings include an all-halal menu from Andrea Jackson’s Khalipha’s Mobile Kitchen, as well as chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, breakfast burritos, and other brunch offerings from Demetrius Edison and the Egg Hunt food truck, and Mexican food from Los Dos Amigos truck. Visit the website for the full summer lineup.