Three food vendors get permits renewed

Hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream! Spring has sprung and food vendors are out enjoying the sunshine and feeding hungry wayfarers.

Three of the town’s mobile food operators — Chez Lenard, the Main Street hot dog vendor, the Circusman roving ice cream truck, and the Zawack Shack Route 7 lunch stand — visited the Board of Selectmen for permit renewals on May 10. All three were granted new $200 one-year permits on a series of unanimous votes.

Mike Principi told the selectmen Chez Lenard has been operating in Ridgefield since 1978 — 39 years — and had been under his ownership for 11 years.

“I love what I do. It’s fun,” he said.

He’s now a family man with two kids.

“I kind of feel like I’m getting old, guys,” Principi confessed.

How’s it going?

“I can’t complain,” Principi said. “Business is great. I’d love it to be 70 and sunny.”

The selectmen asked whether, from his daily spot on Main Street, he had any insights into the teenagers who frequent the downtown area.

“I get along great with the kids. They respect me. They keep me young,” Principi said.

“If you see a young person on the fringe, do you pass that along to anyone at the Barn, or the Boys & Girls Club?” First Selectman Rudy Marconi asked.

The kids on fringe, as Marconi put it, tend not to interact much, Principi said.

“My eyes and ears are always open, but they have the blinders on, the headphones in,” he said.

Enver and Elif Ceylan, who have been operating their Circusman ice cream truck in town for nine years, also came in for a permit renewal.

Marconi said one of the downtown merchants had raised a concern about having the ice cream truck park right off Main Street.

“This came up last time, We were asked not to park by CVS anymore,” said their daughter, who is the family’s most fluent English speaker and handles interactions with politicians and town boards.

“He was working for the concert time, he was asked to park on the other side,” she said.

“By Ballard Green, it’s private property there,” said Selectman Bob Hebert, who is also chairman of the town Housing Authority, operator of the Ballard Green housing for the elderly complex, behind the park where the concerts take place.

“Rather than up on the grass, park on the paved area,” he suggested.

Hebert said there was a problem with litter in the area.

“The vendors aren’t causing the problem, the patrons are,” he said. “They’re throwing their papers on the ground.”

Greg Zawacki told the selectmen he’d been selling food from his Zawack Shack lunch stand for six years now. It’s a trailer he tows and parks daily at the pull-over area across from the Days Inn motel on Route 7. The pull-over is actually a short stretch of the old Route 7 that remains beside the newer highway. It’s long enough for even large trucks to pull over and safely park, and also has a small grass area with picnic tables where people can eat.

“It’s been great. Every year gets better and better,” Zawacki told the selectmen.

Joan Zawacki, his mother, said that when her son works Parks and Recreation events such as the concerts, he’s diligent about cleaning up.

“Every piece of garbage is picked up,” she said.