By CAMILA VELLOSO — Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. is one step closer to operating a food truck hub in Hyattsville.
“We want to become a food truck hub because we believe that it will draw more foot traffic and thereby help revitalize the area around us,” said Jon Cetrano, co-owner of Streetcar 82.
The brewery, which opened in July 2018, began the process of applying for a hub license back in January, but quickly learned they had to seek a special exemption to operate on their property.
Cetrano said that he was unable to apply directly to be a food truck hub coordinator because of restrictions in the current legislation.
Prince George’s County code requires food truck hubs to be located either in parks and recreational facilities controlled by the county, or within a one-quarter mile of certain metro stations, but the brewery doesn’t meet either of these restrictions.
“During our calls around to figure out how to get the exemption, we were referred to [Prince George’s County] Councilmember Deni Taveras’ office,” said Cetrano.
Taveras, who represents District 2, worked with Cetrano to craft new legislation that would grant special authorization for Streetcar 82 to establish a hub at their location on 4824 Rhode Island Avenue.
Taveras introduced the resolution at the council meeting on March 12.
The resolution was then referred to the Health, Human Services and Public Safety committee, which will hold a public hearing to give community members, county representatives, city officials and others the opportunity to voice their support, Taveras said.
Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth submitted a letter to Prince George’s County in support of Streetcar 82’s application, following a unanimous Hyattsville City Council meeting vote on Jan. 7.
“It’s going to allow everyone to enjoy the riches within Hyattsville and ostensibly go to other places in the neighborhood,” said Hyattsville City Councilmember Kevin Ward, who co-sponsored the agenda item.
“It is heartening to see how much support the City of Hyattsville gives to small and local businesses,” said Cetrano.
If the resolution gets voted out of committee, it will return to council for subsequent readings, and with council approval it will become law, Taveras explained.
“I think they will be able to establish a food truck hub without a problem,” she said.
Streetcar 82 would join six other hubs currently operating within Prince George’s County, including those in Greenbelt, College Park, Riverdale Park, Temple Hills and Largo, said Avis Thomas-Lester, the public information officer for the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement.
Before 2015, food trucks were only permitted to operate at fairs, festivals and carnivals with a permit from the health department, said Thomas-Lester. The county council passed a bill in 2015 allowing food truck hub vending in an effort to promote entrepreneurship and increase the diversity of food options.
“The hub will provide for greater economic development, attract folks to a particular location for better food options, and it’ll create a better sense of community along Route 1,” said Taveras.
Stuart Eisenberg, executive director for the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, believes the city is a premier “destination for increased development, where many people want to open up their new business” and isn’t opposed to food trucks hubs. But he worries about the impact of these hubs on local restaurants, which pay high entry costs due to rent, taxes and other licenses.
“If there were a context in which the regulation of the food trucks matched the regulation of the restaurant business, it wouldn’t be an onus on brick-and-mortar establishments,” he said.
With three vacant storefronts next to Streetcar 82, Cetrano hopes that bringing a rotation of food trucks to Hyattsville will not only increase visitors to the area, but also encourage other entrepreneurs to set up shop.
In less than a year, Hyattsville has already welcomed Streetcar 82, Maryland Meadworks and Sangfroid Distilling to its growing craft business scene.
“These folks are producing incredible craft products,” said Eisenberg. “Having all of the different craft brewers together creates a critical mass of interest in the area.”