Students Face Food Truck Troubles

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OBERLIN, OH -- Three Oberlin College students who created a gourmet food truck have hit a road block with the city.

The city has ordered the vendors to close down and park their truck until they submit some controversial paperwork.

"Everything shuts down really early and kids are still out and they want to eat and we want to provide that for them," said Jeremy Reimnitz, an Oberlin College junior.

So, to fix the late night food problem, the three college juniors took what they learned in their entrepreneur class at Oberlin College, raised close to $10,000 and bought and outfitted a gourmet grilled cheese food trailer called North Coast Toast.

"We took everything that we learned in that class and sort of used it to create this," said Oberlin junior Casey Silverstein.

Right now, North Coast Toast is closed for business until the City of Oberlin receives a conditional use permit. So far, there are no food trucks or regulations in Oberlin, so the city wants to draft rules to regulate the trucks and the locations where they can do business.

A statement sent to us by the City Director of Planning and Development Gary Boyle says "the Oberlin Planning Commission has asked staff to research the matter of such operations and to provide draft regulations for their consideration."

The students from North Coast Toast say they haven't signed Oberlin's conditional use permit because they want their truck to be mobile and not limited to one location.

"That conditional use permit would only allow us to operate in commercially zoned areas so they aren't even allowing us to operate on residential zoned areas. So, we want to be able to cater private parties that could potentially be in residential zoned areas or operate similar to how an ice cream truck would operate," said Silverstein.

People who have tasted North Coast Toast's gooey grilled cheese say the students should be able to park their food trucks where the action is.

"They should be able to go where the activity is. If the activity is down by Tappan Square or across the street at the bowling alley, they should be able to move to where the activity is at so they can get the sales," said Jerry Pearlman of Oberlin.

8 comments

  • Jim

    If there are NO food trucks or regulations in Oberlin, then WHY do they have to stop their business??? Isn’t NO REGULATIONS the same as NO LAW, and NO CRIME or OFFENCE???

  • John

    Agree. Typical government response. If there is no law then it must be wrong. Instead of expressing even a modicum of support it is tabled for “research”. Hats off to creative entrepreneurs. I wish them luck.

  • Joe Code stud

    This is what liberals do. These kids just want to have a lemonade stand and the city feels it needs it’s cut.

  • Hillary

    No one is being harmed by these kids operating a creative business that fills a need in the community. Why not let them operate while the town ponders this? Geez, don’t they have more important things to contemplate? Bring it North Coast Toast.

  • Mark Chesler

    North Coast Toast’s assiduous, brazen efforts to flout, eschew and circumvent codified Oberlin Planning Commission regulations have been facilitated, enabled and orchestrated by senior Oberlin College administrators.

    Responding to an obsequious, fawning, saccharine, September 6, 2013 (2:33 PM) e-mail from Tita Reed, Special Assistant to Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, concerning the [fictitive] legal status of North Coast Toast’s proposed mobile food cart, City of Oberlin Planning & Development Director Gary Boyle admonished, in a trenchant, September 9, 2013 (2:21 PM) directive:

    “Mr. Silverstein has been advised by staff as well as the Health Department that permits must be obtained before North Coast Toast starts operation. In this regard, it is my understanding that over the Labor Day weekend both the Police and Fire Departments received complaints concerning North Coast Toast’s food trailer. Needless to say, any comment to them that you may want to make to remind them that they cannot operate absent approvals would be appreciated.”

    Although cognizant that, under current City of Oberlin Planning Commission regulations, absent a municipally sanctioned Conditional Use permit, food carts and food trucks are legislatively prohibited — “Technically we aren’t supposed to be on college property,” Casey Silverstein conceded in a fractionally candid interview with the scatological student tabloid, The Grape (October 17, 2013) — Mr. Silverstein operated North Coast Toast’s unlicensed, unauthorized, illegal food cart in Oberlin College’s tax-exempt Wilder Bowl on September 27, 2013, with, according to Mr. Silverstein, “permission from Chris Baymiller, the [associate] head of the Oberlin College Student Union.”[1] Mr. Silverstein moonlights as the Oberlin College Student Union’s official Dionysus disco webmaster under the ostensible supervision of Mr. Baymiller.

    Shortly after providing Tita Reed, Special Assistant to Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, with incriminating, photographic evidence — posted on North Coast Toast’s Facebook home page — of flagrant, municipal, mobile vending cart violations committed by North Coast Toast and Oberlin College, Oberlin City Manager Eric Norenberg sardonically noted, in a dead-pan, diplomatic, October 11, 2013 (3:31 PM) dispatch to Tita Reed, “I expect they plan/planned to park near Mudd or Wilder for today’s TGIF. Maybe you can see it from [Oberlin College Presidential Chief of Staff] Jane [Mathison]’s window?”

    Ms. Reed replied to Mr. Norenberg in serial, October 11, 2013 (3:33 PM), (3:53 PM) — and, burning the midnight oil attempting to grease, hector and manipulate the bureaucratic, municipal skids, 11:10 PM — finagling e-mails: “If they are on private property and ask for donations rather than set prices, does it make a difference?” Appropriating an impolitic expedient suggested by Mr. Norenberg, the indefatigable Ms. Reed myopically opted to accompany a stymied, fiscally “hemorrhaging”[2] Mr. Silverstein to a prospective meeting with City of Oberlin Planning & Development Director Gary Boyle.

    Characterizing Mr. Silverstein as “a very confused person” in a scathing, October 11, 2013 (4:38 PM) e-mail, addressed to senior municipal department heads, following a blistering, 5-alarm, riot act, withering rebuke of Mr. Silverstein, Oberlin Fire Chief Dennis Kirin concluded, “His conversation suggested that he has been operating around the city.” Haunted by incipient public perception that, in Mr. Silverstein’s sophomoric, uncouth vernacular, he had presumptively “really fucked over those [angel, Kickstarter financial] backers,”[3] North Coast Toast surreptitiously operated an adjunct, unlicensed, unauthorized, illegal, contraband food-cart catering business in the venerable, reprobate tradition of Lorain County Health Department shuttered, stealth, recidivist, Oberlin scofflaw, Failure to Lunch.

    “Our vagrant food trailer…the grill[ed] cheese boys,”[4] in the delicious, pungent argot of Oberlin Fire Chief Dennis Kirin is — pardon my graphic, colloquial French — categorically toast.

    Mark Chesler
    P.O. Box 342
    Oberlin, Ohio 44074

    [1] “Grilled Cheese Truck Poised to Satiate Hungry Obies,” The Grape, October 17, 2013, p.3.

    [2] “Grilled Cheese Truck Poised to Satiate Hungry Obies,” The Grape, October 17, 2013, p.3.

    [3] “Grilled Cheese Truck Poised to Satiate Hungry Obies,” The Grape, October 17, 2013, p.3.

    [4] Oberlin Fire Chief Dennis Kirin e-mail to City of Oberlin Planning & Development Director Gary Boyle, September 4, 2013 (1:38 PM).

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