Pink Elephant Food Truck approved but not allowed a spot

The Pink Elephant Food Truck was approved by the selectmen to work parties and events in town, but the board declined to give the vendor permission to set up regularly and sell its tacos and Asian rice bowls at a roadside location on Route 7.

“You’ll do private parties, but you can’t do a permanent location,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said to Natasha Andrews, owner-operator of The Pink Elephant.

Andrews, a Danbury resident, appeared before the selectmen Nov. 13. She sought a vendor’s permit to work in Ridgefield and wanted approval to set up regularly at 137 Ethan Allen Highway, a “corporate lot” a little south of the intersection of routes 7 and 35.

“I thought that would be a nice,” she said of the spot. “I like that area, that’s a great area. People will be able to see me.”

Marconi said the town’s policy allows food trucks to work at parties or events, but not to set up as roadside vendors.

“I thought if you had a private lot, and the owner gave me permission,” she said,

She didn’t plan to park there all day.

“I was just asking to do lunch,” she said, “a couple of hours…”

“Fifteen minutes,” said Marconi, citing the amount of time the town’s ordinance allows a mobile food vendor to operate from a given location.

The selectmen asked about her food.

“I make Asian and Mexican food. Everything I make is different. It’s unique,” Andrews said. “... It’s not your typical food truck food.”

Andrews had passed a background check by the Ridgefield Police Department, and her truck had earned a 100 rating on an inspection by the Ridgefield Health Department.

The town’s policy of not allowing mobile food vendors to set up for more than 15 minutes in a given spot dates back to a November 2016 town meeting, which amended a decades-old town ordinance. The goal then was partly to protect the interests of tax-paying “brick and mortar” restaurants and commercial properties.

There are currently three exceptions allowed. The Chez Lenard hot dog cart on Main Street and Zwack Shack lunch wagon on Route 7 had already established their locations when the restrictions on mobile food vendors were adopted, so the ordinance grandfathered those operations in as permitted exceptions.

And, earlier this fall, the Nod Hill Brewery and its supporters petitioned for a town meeting that amended the town ordinance to allow food trucks to operate at breweries and wineries as accessory uses in coordination with the main use — the brewery or winery.