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Fulton County responds to street food shutdown

The Fulton County Office of Environmental Health — a division within the Department of Health & Wellness — issued a press release explaining its shuttering of three mobile food operations in Poncey-Highland yesterday.

Apparently, an “AJC blog” alerted them to the existence of these street vendors. Um…

From the press release:

On February 19, 2011, Fulton County Environmental Specialist Kimisha Griffin conducted an investigation into allegations of suspected illegal mobile food vendors. Fulton County officials received notification from the Georgia Department of Community Health, Environmental Health Division of suspected illegal food vendor operations identified from a blog on the Atlanta Journal Constitution website.

As a result of Specialist Griffin’s investigations, 3 legal notices were issued. One was issued to the vendor known as The Fry Guy and 2 were issued to Pure (sic) Vida for operating 2 mobile stations outside of their establishment. These vendors were cited for being in violation of the Georgia Food Code of 2007, which requires a valid food service permit for any and all mobile food operations. One mobile unit in the investigation was not cited as they had a valid permit from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Fulton County Office of Environmental Health Services works with the Atlanta Street Food Coalition to educate and inform vendors of regulatory requirements and is also listed on their website as a resource.

37 comments Add your comment

Soupy Sales

February 20th, 2011
12:25 pm

Free the North Highland Four!! (Ok, seriously, come on all involved: vendors – if you need the permits, get them; county – make the permitting process and regulations affordable and uncomplicated; Mayor Reed – you promised to assist these new entreprenuers as they navigate past the miasma of conflicting local and state rules – please do so and help pass some dang rules to help the burgeoning vendor population while also assuring public food safety. It’s not rocket science. This is tax revenue and jobs you’re shutting down here! Not to mention deliciousness.)

JenC1978

February 20th, 2011
12:36 pm

Agreed – Mayor Reed, what is the problem? I simply don’t understand what the consequences would be for allowing street food vendors. Other major cities hardly blink an eye at this, yet Atlanta and the county it sits in lack any common sense in the matter. How can we ever be the cool, metropolitan city we want to be when we can’t even allow a James Beard nominee the opportunity to sell burritos out of a truck? And Fulton County – how about you focus on some real illegal stuff instead of bothering the dude who sell french fries?

Doug Marranci

February 20th, 2011
12:53 pm

Working on a project to provide licensed commissary kitchens for Food Trucks and Small Food Production Businesses in Atlanta. http://www.AtlantaKitchensForRent.com In the feasibility stage, but the response has been overwhelming! Lets see if the City and County really will help support the hundreds of Food Entrepreneurs in the Atlanta area..

Doug Marranci
Atlanta Restaurant Exchange

Robyn Jackson

February 20th, 2011
12:55 pm

Agreed – and also Mayor Reed and Fulton County you need to govern AND monitor the numerous feedings, out of the back of church vans, to the homeless people all over downtown parking lots and parks – why are they allowed to do this – but not Food Vendors? The city then has to clean up the mess – literally!

Ben Ostrowsky

February 20th, 2011
12:58 pm

Also, that would be Pura Vida, not Pure Vida.

Ben Ostrowsky

February 20th, 2011
1:02 pm

Don’t you think that’s kinda heartless, to think that the most important aspect of feeding someone who’s hungry is whether that person is a future litterbug? People are not pigeons.

Anonymous

February 20th, 2011
2:32 pm

There are far more dangerous people on North Ave than the guy with French fries. Get real Atlanta.

Downtowner

February 20th, 2011
2:41 pm

These aren’t what I would consider genuine “street vendors” who sell food…. vendors who operate a stand at a licensed vending site, or who operate a portable food stand. These are satellites of nearby restaurants. The reason for the food service regulations, obviously, is to prevent food poisoning: make sure the food is kept at the right temperature, was prepared in a sanitary way, etc.

Comments here are completely right though about enforcing the rules for the food-for-the-homeless church vans. The homeless shouldn’t get food poisoning either.

Alphons

February 20th, 2011
2:46 pm

The people need to go to the street and protest this shutdown. This is another way the city is trying to keep the minorities down, who need the money most. kasim reed has turned into an uncle tom, sucking up to rich white people in town to get money. I’ve had enough.

Art

February 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

Gimme a break Alphons! Why is there always someone waiting in the wings to turn every issue into one of race… ? This isn’t a race issue at all. It’s about a county government that has become inefficient and lacking in customer service; more concerned about its own grandeur than whether or not it serves the taxpayers who support it. Shame on you for trying to be a race-baiter. Everyone enjoys good food… it has nothing to do with skin color.

downtowner

February 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

@Art.
Fact is, it’s understandable why Alphons would respond this way, for going back to the 1940s at least Atlanta’s street vendors have always been male African Americans. True in the nearby metro area and at Turner Field too. And those who have most tried to get rid of these folks have been the white business interests of Central Atlanta Progress… long messy history there.

Now satellite food wagons of Poncy-Highland restaurants….

Thanks for your article on 'sender-backers'...

February 20th, 2011
4:24 pm

…I once had a meal at The Palm here in Atlanta – my kids (college age) were with me and the steak I was served was way not to “Palm” standards – even my kids commented that I ought to send it back. However, it was one of those nights/days where nothing had gone right for me, so I just said no, it is OK. I think I was using some sort of a “free entree” deal anyway, so I really was not out anything and thus,k did not want to make a big deal out of it.

However, near the end of the meal the wait person came over and acknowledged that my meal was not well prepared – I told them that was OK, I could handle it. The person repsonded, ” Sir, this is The Palm – you will not be charged and we will provide a free dessert, too”. I tried to protest since it was going to be free anyway, but they persisted and said that they would just comp another entree, too, not just the one they had misprepared.

Needless to say, I have returned to The Palm many times – Bone’s could learn a thing or two from Willie and his crew….

Michael

February 20th, 2011
4:39 pm

Homeless do not buy the food so it’s not regulated. Are you seriously asking that the government gets to tell you that YOU cannot give food away to anyone you wish? At your picnic, your BBQ grill, from your cooler at the beach.

AJ

February 20th, 2011
4:40 pm

@Ben – That’s why John included the “sic”. He was quoting Fulton County and the “sic” indicates that it’s wrong, but he’s quoting it as originally written

Jason

February 20th, 2011
5:27 pm

Yeah, Mayor Reed, what’s your problem? Why haven’t you changed county and state laws? While you’re at it, you should also change the Constitution of the United States to allow for mobile food stands to be open and operated by absolutely anyone with no oversight at all. Come on Mr. Mayor. We know all of this is in your power to do. Don’t let fact that you’re not mayor of Fulton County or mayor of Georgia get in your way. That’s just a namby pamby excuse. My hipster friends in Portland are laughing at me. I can’t even wear my pork pie hat anymore without feeling the shame that we’re not exactly like Portland. We need street corner food now, no matter to consequences.

Matt

February 20th, 2011
7:22 pm

It’s garbage like this from Fulton County that just gives government a bad name. It’s just ridiculous. Time to get in into the 21st century Mayor Reed and cronies.

Brandon

February 20th, 2011
7:31 pm

The Atlanta Street Food Coalition is working to get the city’s codes updated to allow for this type of business. You can join if you want to support these changes > http://www.atlantastreetfood.com/contact/join-our-coalition

ted

February 20th, 2011
11:54 pm

While they’re at it, they should make it so that it isn’t punitive to open a brewpub inside the city limits. Apparently, a single business operating in one location can be charged as multiple alcohol licenses. The tariff for the new one in the works at L5P- $15,000 per year. That’s three licenses (to make beer and serve in 2 different locations within the same premises). C’mon, it’s hard enough to make it as a restaurant anyway (thus the street food movement). The extra few thousand a year isn’t worth making it extra difficult to succeed for the 5 or so brewpubs in the City of Atlanta.

[...] Continued here: Fulton County explains street-food crackdown | Food and More with … [...]

[...] by John Kessler | Access Atlanta [...]

Whatever

February 21st, 2011
5:39 am

Environmental Specialist is another name for Food Cop and with a name like Kimisha where else but Fulton Co govt would a Kimisha work?… Would you hire a Kimisha, Lucretia, Laquawanda, or whatever they name themselves? I wouldn’t

Beth

February 21st, 2011
6:35 am

Make the rules simple, clear and in support of small businesses Atlanta & Fulton County. The government is creating a city where no one wants to live much less move to. Thanks guys.

Kirk

February 21st, 2011
8:13 am

@ whatever. The unusual names that these people have are the fault of the parents, not the people that have them. They are a way of claiming an identity for a people regularly marginalized. Please take into account the Jim Crow BS these people put up with for 150 years. John Smith doesn’t give the impact that these names do. They no longer want to carry the names of the slave master. I wouldn’t either.

Matt

February 21st, 2011
9:25 am

It’s awesome to see how many people care about this issue.

In addition to posting a comment here, y’all should really consider a call, email, or letter to your local representative.

In fact, you can probably just copy n’ paste your comment from here into your legislator’s “contact me” form on their website.

If as many people wrote to their local rep as have posted on the comment threads to the AJC’s food vendor posts, they might actually sit up and take notice.

jennifer

February 21st, 2011
10:20 am

It’s ridiculous that this has turned into a racial conversation. Have you seen the racial make-up for the Fulton County Commission? I have never seen a white code enforcement officer. This is not a racial issue.

This is an issue of bureaucrats not knowing how to deal with a situation that is in any way different from what they’ve known in the past, and deciding to just say “no” rather than using logic and reason to address a novel situation. So many local governments operate with this small-minded approach, and their iron fist makes it difficult and expensive for small businesses to use innovation. It is utterly infuriating that people with little education and no discretion are allowed to make decisions that affect the livelihood of these restaurateurs and their families.

Anna in Poncey-Highland

February 21st, 2011
10:30 am

OK folks – let’s make sure we get this right.
1) This has NOTHING to do with the City of Atlanta or Mayor Reed. This was an action by Fulton County.
2) The City and the County leadership – including Commissioners Garner and Evans and City Councilman Hall – are meeting on this and have promised us they will come up with a resolution soon.
3) Yes, the City’s proposed legislation would be most helpful to street vendors and you should reach out to your City Councilperson and indicate your support, but it will have NO impact stopping what the County did.
4) Leslie and Hector and the Fry Guy were doing what they were suppose to do and got all their permits they thought they needed. No one told them about this additional permit because the City and County don’t functional well together.

The City and County need to do a better job collaborating and communicating to help local businesses be successful. That is the other message we need to repeat to our local representatives.

Thomas

February 21st, 2011
10:46 am

Just don’t stick it to us Doug. One kitchen wants 400 dollars for 20 hours per month. Small vendor just can’t afford that. Especially someone who is starting out.

Kyle

February 21st, 2011
12:11 pm

@Anna in Poncey-Highland

I find #1 of your post ridiculous as you yourself invest the rest of your post pointing out the city DOES have everything to do with it. We are anxiously awaiting for the city to progressively pave the way for mobile food vending, but he has not addressed the issue fully with thoughtful proposals.

Atlanta is FAR behind the rest of the country on this issue at a time when we cannot stifle job creation and commerce…but here we are. As @Brandon says – luckily the ASFC is working hard to lobby on behalf of the community and our interests. Show you support and send a donation for the cause – I’m not a vendor and I did!

http://www.atlantastreetfood.com/contact/join-our-coalition

kmb

February 21st, 2011
2:28 pm

This smacks of Alice’s Restaurant. Since you all promoted their activity by publicizing it in your blog, are the AJC and John Kessler now accessories to a crime? Will Arlo Guthrie come down for a benefit concert? Will there be a rally in support of the street food vendors at City Hall?

Manager

February 22nd, 2011
7:02 am

Bums are rats not pigeons.

Seth G

February 22nd, 2011
1:58 pm

Will someone pay off the noob Mayor, already? The Fulton County govt only cares about one thing and one thing only, to be paid off. That’s why they got into govt in the first place. They can care less about growing the city, it’s a short term money making scheme for them. And that goes to the APD as well. Duh.

cool today hot tamale

February 22nd, 2011
2:10 pm

hey – Later today, I’ll be at the corner of Grumble Rd and Whine St selling tamales freshly steamed in my dirty gym socks

come on out and nosh

Julie

February 22nd, 2011
6:48 pm

The rules and regulations regarding this issue are very complex. There are hurdles to be overcome with regards to a very restrictive Food Code in GA, as well as applicable local and city ordinances. The Atlanta Street Food Coalition, Shared Kitchens, LLC and other advocates for food entrepreneurship are working hard on behalf of aspiring and existing street food vendors.

jhutch621

February 23rd, 2011
12:27 pm

Does it have something to do with an underground restaurant lobby keeping these guys off the streets? Whatever the cause, this has been a stupid situation FOREVER. I want some hot dogs, tacos, cheese steaks, hoagies etc, for crying out loud. It’s time for the city to grow up.

Vic

February 23rd, 2011
1:06 pm

I agree that food service from the church vans should be regulated just as these street vendors are but that isn’t going to happen in our lifetime, is it? Does anyone really care if the homeless are protected from unsanitary conditions from the church vans and the mess they leave behind? The alternative is you will find the homeless and the winos eating out of Atlanta’s dumpsters which is just as gross.

Christy

February 23rd, 2011
2:06 pm

I had high hopes for Mayor Reed on Jan. 4, 2010 as I listened to his inaugural address. On that day, Mayor Reed promised to be the “Small Business Mayor”, the “Entrepreneurs Mayor” and he promised to reform the permit process. He promised to create hope and jobs for citizens, to create a culture of customer service, and encouraged us to come together as a city.

I had the opportunity to meet the mayor last spring. I asked him what he was doing for us entrepreneurs and told him what progressive cities such as New Orleans were doing. He told me about advances he had made securing funding for small (read larger) businesses and a few other things. I commended him for his efforts but said these things didn’t really apply to entrepreneurs – banks aren’t really in the business of giving poor creative startups loans. He asked me for some ideas, which I gave, and said he would call me. Unfortunately, my phone never rang and an email never arrived.

I really needed his help last fall. I went to renew my Department of Agriculture license to transfer dried peas from a 20 pound box to individual one pound poly bags. This activity is considered “processing”. I must be licensed and it must be performed in a commercial kitchen (don’t ask me how long it took to initially figure this out). Last fall, the rules changed. They still had to be packed in a commercial kitchen but “dual licensing” was no longer allowed. Apparently, the county and the state weren’t happy playing in the same sandbox – if the facility was licensed by the county, no state license could be issued in the same facility. Up until that point, I had shared facilities with non-profit groups and hired program participants to perform the labor. There went my whole business plan.

So many other US cities are experiencing positive economic growth due to creative entrepreneurs. It’s a shame Atlanta is not more receptive to these opportunities. Hopefully, this latest situation will bring about some positive change.

theATLisours!

February 24th, 2011
3:31 pm

it like the whites want atlanta back,well sorry! you cant have it back you got all the other spots so go live there and leave us alone.what you doing Reed is taking anonther brother down my man.