‘A game changer for a lot of trucks’: Pilot program will allow food truck parking downtown

The city’s ever-expanding food scene just got a new option outside as food truck owners can now take advantage of a pilot program years in the making.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:33 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The city’s ever-expanding food scene just got a new option outside as food truck owners can now take advantage of a pilot program years in the making.

For the next two months, food trucks will be allowed to park in metered spots in three downtown Lincoln areas - a luxury previously prohibited for the most part due to city ordinance.

The program was originally slated to start 2020 and talks of it were happening even before that. The city along with food trucks even hosted an event in March of 2020 to celebrate the idea.

“You know, COVID hit we were ready to launch the pilot program, and then literally the next week, everything shut down,” said Nick Maestas, the owner of Muchachos.

Right now, the city has set aside three areas for truck parking. Two on Centennial Mall at M and Q streets, and a third on 8th Street between M and L streets. Those are the options it lists for at least the first two weeks of the program, but say that could change or expand.

“Those pockets are initially the ones that we targeted as places that don’t have a lot of places to go eat,” Maestas said.

For those behind the push like Maestas, who has been vocal about the city needing to add more options for businesses like his, he said before parking downtown, trucks would have to get invited for events or build relationships with business owners to use parking lots - something that takes time.

“Being able to park in those public spots downtown I think is a game changer for a lot of trucks,” Maestas added.

Trucks that are interested in taking part in the pilot program will have to fill out applications and be approved through the city’s “Park and Go” office. The city said the locations it chose were very intentional.

“Centennial Mall provides tables and chairs already so we’re just using existing infrastructure so that people will be able to wander over and get something to eat,” said Director of Urban Development Dan Marvin.

Marvin said to measure the success and the future of the program, the city will look at a few different metrics beyond just the public’s reaction.

“Those folks will need to be able to demonstrate that sending employees and trucks over in these areas are profitable for them,” Marvin said. “We’ll look at trash and other things around in the area so that locations work and what other locations we might want to open up in the downtown.”

The program is slated to run through November 1st. Marvin said after that feedback period, the option is on the table to make the ordinance change permanent.