Bellingham riding a wave of mobile food

Food trucks are multiplying in Whatcom County and riding a wave started in Seattle and other cities, said Tom Kunesh, county health department environmental health supervisor.

The County currently has about 67 licensed mobile food vendors, he said.

“Five to 10 years ago we had more like 20 to 30,” Kunesh said. “It definitely increased dramatically.”

Bellingham has a food truck pod on the 700 block of Ohio Street, another at the Faithlife parking lot at the intersection of Bay and Champion streets, and solitary food trucks park throughout the city.

The growing industry hasn’t seen much backlash from brick-and-mortar restaurants, said Michael Crane, owner of an accounting and bookkeeping firm that works with local restaurants.

“I think they have caused some concern, but not a lot,” Crane said. “It seems to be pretty well-received.”

Lori Johnson, founder of the Washington State Food Truck Association, sees food trucks and restaurants as catering to different markets—one is for casual convenience, another is for an experience.

There’s some crossover between food trucks and restaurants. Brick-and-mortar eateries including Mallard Ice Cream, Goat Mountain Pizza, and Diego’s Mexican Grill, have started their own food trucks. Meanwhile, at least one food truck —Super Mario’s—has opened a restaurant.

Many food trucks have relationships with another expanding local industry—breweries. Food trucks park outside Wander Brewing and both of Kulshan Brewing’s locations daily.

Whatcom County is more welcoming to food trucks and mobile vendors than many of the other counties Johnson has researched while starting the state food truck association, she said.

“I found Whatcom County to be very flexible and accommodating to new mobile food vendors seeking a permit, and the regulations not as stringent as some other counties,” she said.

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