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Food trucks struggle in new Eastern Promenade location, owners say

The owner of Mr. Tuna said his food truck does a tenth of the sales it used to do at the top of the promenade.

PORTLAND, Maine — The debate over food trucks operating in Maine's largest city continues. 

Portland leaders have taken several steps to address residents' complaints related to food trucks along the Eastern Promenade. This includes moving the trucks away from homes and into a lower parking lot on Cutter Street. 

But some food truck owners say the new accommodations aren't working out. 

"We’ve definitely seen a huge drop [in sales]," Mr. Tuna owner Jordan Rubin said. "There are some days where we're doing an eighth or a tenth of what we used to do on weekdays specifically."

Rubin told NEWS CENTER Maine sales have been down ever since food trucks were moved down from the Eastern Promenade roadway and down the hill to Cutter Street. The city said the change was an effort to address concerns about excessive trash and pedestrian safety.

"Last year before we made the move down, we were seeing record numbers," Rubin said.

On top of a $500 license charge, Rubin and the other six food trucks that park on Cutter Street need to pay a new $3,900 fee to park there.

"Our question is, where is all that [money] going?" he asked. 

A spokesperson for the City of Portland said the money goes toward controlling the cost of the city's Permitting and Inspections Department. 

"That division has a lot to do in terms of housing safety, rent control, business licensing, food inspections," Portland Communications Director Jessica Grondin said. "There are a lot of things that go into an operation of a business, and so, [the fees] cover the cost of the department." 

Grondin said the city will look into possibly providing electricity at the Cutter Street location. It's something food truck owners have requested.

"We want to make sure it's a prime spot they want to be located in before we make any future investments," she added. 

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