Three area restaurants took the opportunity during Monday’s Brainerd City Council open forum to voice their concerns over Prairie Bay’s recent extension into a mobile food truck.
“I understand what they (Prairie Bay) are trying to do, and I commend them for that, but I don’t see it as fair to other restaurants in the area,” said Brad Klein, manager of Jimmy’s Pizza on Washington Street in northeast Brainerd.
Currently operating on permits in Nisswa, Crosslake, Baxter and Brainerd, Prairie Bay is working with a number of area businesses, which could include the Westgate Mall and Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Baxter Clinic, in order to rotate the food truck to different sites for meals. The truck, called the Prairie Bay Side Dish Local-Motive Kitchen, offers a select menu, including soup, sandwiches and take-n-bake pizzas. Prairie Bay manager, Nick Miller said the menu will adjust when in the vicinity of neighboring restaurants who count on making money via sandwich or pizza sales.
“We definitely understand your concerns and we think the same way and continue to take those concerns into consideration every step of the way,” said Miller. “We want to be neighborly. If we set up by Mickey’s Diner — I love the BLT, I get it everytime — we wouldn’t serve that kind of food or anything really similar.
“I think this (food truck) is fun and an extension off of our Baxter restaurant. It’s definitely a busy vehicle because we don’t see a lot of that in Brainerd or our area.”
City Planner Mark Ostgarden said that the Nov. 14 planning commission meeting will serve as further discussion on the matter.
“It’s going to be the planning commission’s job to discuss the broad issue,” said Ostgarden. “Not to discuss whether or not food trucks should be in the city of Brainerd, but it’s for the specific reason they have to remain focused on and that is whether or not a food truck is a restaurant.
“That is what they will bring to the council (Nov. 19).”
Brainerd city attorney, Tom Fitzpatrick, said that with all of the information that is required to be gathered, the Nov. 14 meeting might be too soon to have a good idea of the next step.
Still, Council President Mary Koep remained optimistic a solution is near that will appease both Prairie Bay and fellow restaurants.
“We understand all sides of this issue,” she said. “And we hope this can be resolved in a way that respects everyone.”