Food truck owners find ways to stay afloat amid pandemic as many Maryland businesses continue to struggle

With so many DMV restaurants permanently closed or even trying to stay open during the pandemic, it seems one particular side of the dining industry in Frederick, Maryland, has found a creative way to stay afloat.

Some food truck operators in the city tell FOX 5 that they are having to think outside of the box and are coming up with creative ways to continue attracting hungry people.

RELATED: Restaurant associations project 25% of DC, Maryland restaurants will close for good

“Neighborhoods don’t have a limit to capacity of fifty percent like breweries and wineries do,” explained Karina Goytia who operates two food trucks with Traditional Authentic Mexican Food. “We are fortunate to have a great customer base who has put us in contact with the HOA’s directly to get the permits and the requirements that we need such as certificate of insurances that are required just be to able to set up in a parking lot in a residential zone.” 

According to a city ordinance, the mobile food vendor provisions establish "primary site users" which can be a small scale craft brewery, winery, or distillery that is allowed to operate as permitted. 

Even with so many outdoor events canceled, Goytia said that many vendors are trying to be creative such as ramping up their social media marketing and presence, word of mouth and even working with neighborhoods and certain office buildings that allow them to operate on their private property. 

RELATED: Permanently Closed: DMV restaurants and businesses that will not reopen

Goytia said there is no doubt about seeing a slight decline in sales because many food truck operators rely on big outdoor events such as the Frederick Food Truck Festival, Color Fest and the Summer Reggae Wine & Music Festival, all of which have been canceled.

But she added, the fact that they are pretty versatile and are not subject to stay in one location, is what has helped them stay afloat. 

Meanwhile, some customers dining outside of Blue’s BBQ said that while they support outdoor dining for brick and mortars during this time, there is still an uneasy feeling of being able to sit inside of a restaurant as opposed to grabbing food ‘on-the-go.’

“This is a better choice because of being outside and in the open environment,” said Jeremy Brown, “and we are fortune and living in the Mid-Atlantic so we can do that for a good part of the year.”

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FOX 5 also spoke with Nezih Pistar, owner of Isabella’s on Market Street and several other brick and mortars.  Pistar said that right now, surviving is their goal because he has combined 300 employees who work for him, yet many of them are not coming in, which means help is down by 60 percent. 

“16 million people are employed by restaurants and most of them don’t want to come to work,” said Pistar. “And outdoor seating will help us a little bit and fifty percent inside but it’s not enough for us yet.”

FOX 5 inquired about plans that the city may have in order to continue to address the impacts of COVID-19 in the community, including food trucks. We were told in a statement:

“We hope to have something soon that would expand our pop-up dining efforts to temporarily increase opportunities and allowances for food trucks,”.