LYNDHURST, Ohio — While many brick and mortar stores have struggled this past year, Andre Wheeler saw the pandemic as an opportunity.
“Due to folks not being able to patronize restaurants,” he said.
He opened up his food truck, Stix and Buns, in June of 2020.
“The food truck, when I started it, has been doing exceptionally well,” said Wheeler.
Since June, Wheeler has been parking that truck in Lyndhurst on Mayfield Road in front of his wife Edith Donaldson-Wheeler’s salon.
“I think it’s important to recognize he is on private property,” said Donaldson-Wheeler. “He’s parked in front of my business and it’s been beneficial during the pandemic.”
But in January, the city passed an ordinance limiting when and where food trucks can operate.
“In the ordinance, it states that you can only operate your food truck one day a week, well, how can any business survive after one day a week?” he asked. “Now since I’ve been operating over the last couple of months an ordinance needs to be put in place to pretty much shut me down.”
He said he was operating under the Cuyahoga County ordinance because the city of Lyndhurst didn’t have one. But the Wheelers feel targeted with this new city ordinance.
“I think some residents just don’t want a trailer with a black man on the front sitting on Mayfield Road,” said Donaldson-Wheeler.
Lyndhurst Mayor Patrick Ward said the ordinance is simply about creating a city-wide regulation. He said while Stix and Buns is on Donaldson-Wheeler’s property, it’s a property that’s shared with other businesses.
“I know his wife pays rent in one building and another building, but so do all the other businesses that are there,” Ward said. “That gives them the same rights and expectations for parking and visibility.”
Ward said it was time the city had a food truck ordinance.
“What is the interaction between the prospective customer and vehicular traffic, especially in a plaza where you only have one row of parking here, one road parking here in a driving lane in between?” he said.
The ordinance only allows a food truck to operate 1 day a week unless it’s a city event, it also doesn’t allow a food truck to operate on public or private property while it is open to normal traffic, food trucks cannot be parked overnight.
“It has nothing to do with anything other than the need to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and the general public,” said Ward.
Wheeler said he has done everything by the book.
“It’s very frustrating especially after I’ve put $60,000 in this truck. I just want to do things the right way and make a living for my family,” said Wheeler. “We are not a problem to the community, whatsoever, we only bring profit and revenue here.”
He feels like it’s a way to get him out.
“For them to drive me out, it’s disheartening,” he said.
Andre’s wife, Edith, echoed his sentiment.
“Any traffic promotes business, so if you’re coming to get food you might stop to grocery shop, you’re coming to get food you might stop for ice cream. Let's be realistic business helps business,” she said.