Locals lead the way for food truck park in St. Augustine Beach

Big Island BowlsBy Darby Moore | gargoyle@flagler.edu

No one would expect a young, vibrant couple to reshape the way locals dine in St. Augustine Beach. But Brendan Schneck and Kelly Hazouri, co-owners of Big Island Bowls food truck, have been steadily working on changing the food scene.

Schneck and Hazouri, along with other food truck advocates, are in the process of campaigning for local government officials to permit the establishment of a food truck park in city limits.

“We will either find a way or we will make one,” Hazouri said.

The park would mean a more permanent location for Hazouri and Schneck’s food truck, which specializes in healthy Hawaiian-style acai smoothie bowls and other beverages.

It would be a major change for food truck vendors, who currently are only permitted to operate during weekly or monthly events, such as at the St. Augustine Beach Farmer’s Market held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

In addition, the city does not allow food truck vendors to park trucks for regular hours of operation, a restriction which Schneck and Hazouri are fighting to change.

Following a volatile St. Augustine Beach commissioner’s meeting held in July, Schneck and Hazouri were beginning to think that their dream of bringing food trucks to St. Augustine Beach was going to be impossible.

“The meeting was full of opposition and left us feeling very disheartened,” Hazouri said.

During the meeting, several local brick-and-mortar restaurant owners voiced their opposition to the creation of a food truck park along the beach.

Chad Cockayne, owner of Café 11, said food trucks were better suited to operate solely at special events held in the city.

Gloria and Rick Worley, owners of beachside restaurant Mango Mango’s, also voiced opposition to the establishment of the park, stating that the number of trucks allowed along the beach should be controlled and limited, and that they should not be permitted to operate on public property.

As of July, it appeared as though brick and motor restaurants would be successful in their attempts to keep food trucks off of St. Augustine Beach.

Despite opposition, it appears as though Schneck and Hazouri’s dream may have some potential.

Andrea Samuels, mayor of St. Augustine Beach, began the discussion with a call for change.

“We need to progress more as a town,” Samuels said in the meeting.

Samuels suggested the launch of a pilot program, which would allow food trucks to park and carry out their business for a trial period of time. Upon the pilot’s completion, the city would reevaluate the positive and negative effects that the park has had.

The meeting included comments made by members of the public, voicing their support of Schneck and Hazouri. While some were fellow Flagler College graduates and friends of the duo, others were simply members of the community.

“I am still amazed by the positive and progressive shift that took place in City Hall this week. Brendan and I were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received,” Hazouri said.

Yet it will take a large amount of time and effort to create Schneck and Hazouri’s food truck park.

It hasn’t been decided where the park would be located. In addition, it is still unclear which each truck will be permitted to operate, as well as the issue of whether or not each truck will be required to abide by standard building codes in regard to color and placement near residential and public areas.

Hazouri and Schneck are excited for the future and plan to face future challenges obstructing their dream business head-on.

“We have learned through all these growing pains that small business is not for the faint of heart,” Hazouri said. “It’s for the brave, the patient, and the persistent. It’s for those who overcome.”

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