Orlando changes hours of food vendors with approval of new pilot program

There have been a number of recent proposals focused on downtown Orlando, particularly its nightlife scene. Now, city leaders are considering a measure that could impact your late-night snack options.

The proposal would create a mobile food cart pilot program. It aims to find a balance between people satisfying their late-night cravings and small businesses trying to make a profit. The city realized some food vendors were operating later than allowed, so city leaders are temporarily updating the rules to add regulations to see if it helps. 

The city is recommending allowing up to 12 food carts at 10 locations downtown. 

Under the current program, food carts aren’t allowed to operate on the streets and sidewalks, but under the new program, mobile food cart owners could set up in the city’s rights of way, where there are wide sidewalks and/or the street is closed to help manage walking traffic. 

Approved vendors would be allowed to take their last order at 2:30 a.m. on normal days and can stay open until 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve. Approved vendors would have a special decal and must have proper licensing from the state.

They would also be required to take extra steps to keep downtown clean like providing large trash cans, and the city would require certain disposal of grease. 

Orlando’s Placemaking Director Sherry Gutch said the vendors will pay $50 to operate within the hours allowed. She said it’s for only current vendors who have been there for years. 

"A lot of them were self-regulating, so they weren’t closing till 3:30 to 4 a.m. and so as you know have a loitering issues downtown and so that was part of our loitering issue, related to the vendors," she said.

The pilot program is for one year. After that, the city will review how things went and decide on changes or could extend the pilot program to do more research.