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Food truck vendors unsettled over fees, lackluster sales during UCI Road World Championships

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Posted at 3:27 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 15:27:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. — As fans crowded Broad Street for the seventh day of the UCI Road World Championships, local food vendors were still hoping that spectators would race to their food trucks for lunch and snacks. According to a document obtained by CBS 6, the city charged vendors anywhere from $200 to $500 per day for their prime locations near the race routes.

“Overall, the turnout hasn’t been quite what they predicted it to be,” said Malcolm Andress III, owner of RVA Street Foodies. “The biggest thing in business is what you market to the people is what they remember. It was too much time spent with road closures and not enough time spent around what you’re going to get as an event … got to give the people what they want to see.”

Some food cart owners, like Lewis Asare, owner of Sweet Teas in Shockoe Bottom, were even bleaker their assessment of the race and its impact on business.

“The majority of the customers have been coming from the business around, from people on their lunch break. We haven’t seen that many foreigners,” said Asare. “I don’t know what the race is going to do for the city, but it didn’t help the businesses, especially the small businesses.”

Others are more positive about the race’s impact like Andrew Walters, an employee at Carytown Burgers and Fries food truck. He said that while the week started slow, he has seen steady improvement.

“The first day we came out here … it was a little slow unfortunately, but it’s picked up throughout the week as the races have gotten more important,” Walters said. “It’s definitely picked up throughout the week. We were out here the other day and killed it … we had a lot of business, which is awesome.”

The slow business and lower than expected turnout of spectators was especially damaging for local food trucks and vendors.

[READ: Where to find the 41 food truck vendors, and beer]

“That first day … there was a public outcry from all the vendors saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t even make enough money to cover our cost to be here’,” Walters said. “I think the city refunded that cost … but the prices have gone down. They’re not trying to gouge anybody.”

Andress offered a solution to the city that would have presented an easier outcome for food trucks. Having an exit route organized would have given Andress and his colleagues a smoother, more accurate way of depicting the amount of food necessary for the given day.

“One thing that would have helped to lower the overhead of vendors is to actually make an exit route,” Andress said. “So we wouldn’t have had to purchase so much stuff at front, we could have [gone] to the restaurant depots and our supplies stores. Then we could have kept our supplies going all day.”

“You have to make sure that your vendors are always taken care of, because those are the people who touch the customers,” Andress added. “And when your vendors aren’t happy, it makes for an unhappy experience.”

By Bryant Drayton and CJ Paschall (Special to WTVR.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: WTVR.com has partnered with the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project at VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students from the project reported the following story.