Restaurants complain about food trucks

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Representatives of some Pawhuska restaurants addressed the City Council on April 11 about financial pressure they are experiencing as a result of food trucks visiting the community.

Bobby Horn, speaking for Bad Brad’s Bar-B-Q, commented about the effect of food trucks generally, but he singled out Chick-fil-A as having had an impact.

“There are numerous ways those things take away from businesses that are local,” Horn told the Council. Kim Laird, on behalf of Buffalo Joe’s Restaurant, and Clay Hughs, on behalf of the Huskie Grill, were also present.

Horn said one of the effects of the food truck visits is that restaurant wait staff members lose a large portion of their tip income.

Wait staff personnel work for about $3-4 per hour, plus tips, he said, adding that a single day makes a big difference to restaurant employees. Those employees, who live in Pawhuska, spend their incomes on the goods and services of other local businesses, he said.

Kim Laird, of Buffalo Joe’s, said her employees brought the issue to her attention. Laird said she could replace her sit-down restaurant with a food truck and let her employees go, but that would mean the community would lose something, too.

“But then our public wouldn’t have anywhere to sit,” Laird said.

Mayor Roger Taylor commented that he didn’t think the Council could keep food trucks out of Pawhuska. The Council did not make any immediate decisions on the subject of food trucks, but municipal code officer Steve Hughes had done some research about what nearby cities charge for food truck permits, and what regulations those cities enforce regarding the operation of food trucks.

A Pawhuska municipal food truck permit is $25 per day or $100 per year, according to the document that Hughes provided to the Council.

Council considers request to earmark more money for ambulance purchase

Pat Hailey, director of Pawhuska EMS, on April 11 approached the City Council about possibly setting aside an additional $60,000 to be spent on the purchase of an ambulance. What emerged from the discussion is that the city has $294,000 (including $239,000 provided by the Osage Nation) already committed to an ambulance purchase, but the vehicle isn’t ready yet and there’s no clear timeline for when it might be ready. Hailey said the ambulance that is on order was supposed to be ready by January of this year, but that approximate date has come and gone. Auto manufacturing companies are simply making fewer vehicles, he said.

“Everybody is waiting. We’re on the list. There is no time frame,” Hailey said.

What Hailey was asking for was a commitment of up to $60,000 more to put Pawhuska in a position to possibly compete for an available vehicle. He explained that Pawhuska EMS is being called on to provide additional services for a larger area of the county.

“Where would the $60,000 come from?” Ward 2 Councilor Susan Bayro said. City government is currently in tight financial straits.

“You’re right. We don’t really have an extra $60,000,” Interim City Manager Laura Teague said. Teague directed Hailey to keep a record for 30 days of all the ambulances that he notices are available for sale. The Council made no decision on the issue April 11.