When the pandemic left Grover Beach-based events coordinator Epic Entertainment without any events to coordinate, the Epic team decided to turn its huge parking lot at 675 West Grand Avenue into a haven for local food trucks.
- Photo Courtesy Of Brenen Bonetti
- MOBILE MUNCHIES Food trucks like The Grinning Bear dish out delicious munchies several days a week at GBeatZ.
Dubbed GBeatZ, the parking lot opened up to vendors in November 2020, charging 10 percent of each truck's daily sales in hopes of making up for some of its pandemic-induced losses. GBeatZ quickly became a popular spot among locals and visitors, and Epic Entertainment DJ Anthony Salas said the six food trucks that currently use the space generated half a million dollars in the first six months of operation.
"What we're charging them for rent was able to pay for our rent through COVID," Salas said. "It helped us, it helped them."
But because codes in Grover Beach don't explicitly allow mobile food vendors on private or public property, GBeatZ is operating under a temporary use permit. Salas said he's hoping to change that.
"It's doing so well that if we can get a permanent permit to do it, then with some of the changes and improvements we're doing, we can hire someone full-time to be a GBeatZ manager."
At a meeting on June 14, Grover Beach City Council discussed plans to update its municipal and development codes to allow food trucks and some other mobile vendors to operate in the public right of way and on private property. The city's current regulations date back to 2001 and 1960, according to a city staff report, and prohibit vendors from operating on public streets.
Although food trucks have historically been at odds with brick-and-mortar restaurants, which sometimes complain that food trucks poach customers without investing into any one community, City Manager Matt Bronson said that hasn't been the case in Grover Beach.
Food trucks have become increasingly popular in the past few years and especially during the pandemic, when a number of local breweries and wineries relied on mobile food vendors to continue operating under state COVID-19 restrictions. Now food trucks are considered to be somewhat complementary to brick-and-mortars, Bronson said.
With large followings on social media, Bronson said food trucks could actually serve to increase foot traffic and visibility in Grover Beach. SLO County residents might drive to Grover to eat at a food truck parked in town, then stick around for the day to shop and hang out.
GBeatZ is located on a portion of Grand Avenue where there aren't many other restaurants, and Bronson said it's turned the area into a lively little spot. The city hasn't received any complaints from neighboring businesses. Bronson said he doesn't know of any other similar food truck parks in South County, making it a dining experience unique to Grover Beach, another draw for visitors and locals alike.
Now Bronson said he and other city staff plan to bring draft ordinances regarding food trucks and other mobile vendors back to City Council sometime in the fall. It's not clear yet what guidelines vendors will need to follow, but council members were most interested in encouraging the continued popularity of food trucks.
Councilmember Dan Rushing said creative ideas like GBeatZ only help support the vitality of all Grover Beach businesses.
"The more that we have a reason for people to come out to go and choose Grover Beach as a destination for a dinner," he said, "the better the all of our restaurants can be." Δ