Food Carts in New Canaan?

Though no food cart operators formally have applied to set up hot dog or other stands in New Canaan, they've made inquiries about it and on Friday, the Board of Selectmen will discuss how to handle the matter.


Three or four food cart operators are seeking information on how to set up shop in New Canaan, prompting officials to examine longstanding local regulations.

None of the three or four vendors formally has applied for the required peddler's license, but if approved after making what is a fairly straightforward application, their presence would mark a change for the town.

“Most of them have wanted to do something like hot dog vending, which we have never had in town before,” Town Clerk Claudia Weber told Patch.

Any peddler or “itinerant vendor” is subject to regulations laid out in a 56-year-old section of the Town Code—Chapter 43, attached as a PDF.

Here’s what part of the language in that section says:

“No person shall make, place or erect in any highway any stand, wagon, cart or other vehicle or any structure for the sale or offering for sale of any goods, wares or merchandise or for the conduct of any business or selling, unless such person shall have obtained a license therefor as herein provided.”

The license is obtained from the Town Clerk, and for $25 is good for one year—a fee schedule that apparently hasn’t been updated since the regulation was adopted by the town in 1957.

Here’s some of what an individual needs to obtain a peddler’s license, according to the Town Code:

  • Photo
  • Fingerprints
  • $10 application fee
  • “A letter from some reputable resident of the Town attesting to the good moral character of the applicant.”

The town in 2006 adopted regulations that prevent food vendors from setting up shop in town parks or on public school grounds.

What isn’t clear is just where a vendor—say, a hot dog man—would set up his cart.

Off-street parking in New Canaan is overseen by the Police Commission. Asked whether any special rules would apply to food carts, Commission Chairman Jim Cole said that, generally, anyone who adheres to parking rules for an individual spot is allowed to park there.

“I don’t know of any special rules for food vendors but I do know the rules for a parking spot,” Cole said. “If someone has taken up a parking spot whether they are selling food or not and have exceeded the time limit for that space, then they have to move the vehicle.”

Cole said food cart operators more likely would be targeting the longer-term spaces available in lots—say, the Morse Court lot—overseen by the Parking Bureau. Officials in the bureau could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to Weber, anyone seeking a peddler’s license to sell food also needs a permit issued by the local health department.

One noteworthy section in the relevant Town Code chapter says: “Licenses issued under this Article may be revoked at any time by the First Selectman of the town.” 

Asked about the prospect of food carts in New Canaan, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said his immediate concern is for physical, tax-paying restaurants “that have so embraced our community and are employing many people.”

“I’m worried about what a proliferation of food carts could do to affect these established businesses,” he said.

The matter will be discussed Friday during a special Board of Selectmen meeting that’s posted on the town government calendar.

canaan guy April 09, 2013 at 10:38 AM
“I’m worried about what a proliferation of food carts could do to affect these established businesses,” he said. What about the over saturation of restaurants.... isn't he worried about that as well?
wiltonmom April 09, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Just one bagel/muffin cart at the train station would be nice in the mornings.
AD April 09, 2013 at 11:59 AM
I would not mind seeing something like Chez Lenard in Ridgefield. A nice hot dog stand with good dogs and toppings. Probably only competition would be Station Eats or Apple Cart. Or maybe a Kebob stand.
Glen K Dunbar April 09, 2013 at 11:59 AM
There use to be a truck at the train station years ago. Wow, what Memories!!!
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 04:00 PM
I don't think these should be regular fixtures around downtown, but I agree that a cart at the train station would be great - as well as in the parks (why is that altogether not allowed??) - and it would be wonderful to have food carts or kiosks around during events such as the holiday stroll, or even during the summer on the part of South Ave that will be closed off to cars on the weekends. Yes, during the stroll some restaurants set up tables outside, and that's nice, but some more variety would be great. I am thinking of the European holiday markets that set up around various cities . . . Attract people to town and make for a very pleasant and novel experience.
karen gibbens April 09, 2013 at 05:23 PM
@Glen: Yes there was a coffee truck back in the 60s and 70s that made the rounds to places of bussness's around town, I remember him going to Karl Buick when my mom worked there. Also if I remember right he also had the food stand @ the local beach back in the 60s, There was a food truck one time at Mead Park back in the 80's/90's right??????
Michael Dinan (Editor) April 09, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Yes that was the "Kwik Stop" I think over at Mead. That was a food truck—and it's true that you need a peddler's license and permit from the health department for those, too—but I think what we are talking about here are the smaller food carts, like something you'd hitch onto the back of an automobile.
Evil Squirrel April 09, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Connie's and then MJs were a high school lunch staple at Mead Park.....great cheese steaks. Also worth noting, there was a food truck at the Talmadge HIll station this morning. Perhaps a coindidence? Either way, a great idea for commuters there who have no coffee or breakfast option unlike those who depart from the NC train station.
God Bless New Canaan April 09, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Not a Good idea. Dozens of food purveyors pay rent, taxes, and advertising dollars selling to and supporting our town. To allow 'Itinerants', or part time vendors a spot in town to take away from established shops would be a disservice. We already are giving away street spage for sidewalk tables, let's not further clutter our streetscapes with carts, garbage, mess, and idlers waiting for their next food fix. The vendors at the train station negotiated their space at a price. If their wares are inadequate for our palates, then perhaps they should upscale.
Jon S. April 09, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Why should the first selectman, or anyone for that matter, worry about too many restaurants in town? If there isn’t enough business to support a restaurant, it will go the way of “The Tuscan.” Same thing with the frozen yogurt and ice cream stores.
Bar Dumbglen April 10, 2013 at 12:53 AM
What we really need is a yogurt truck
Tenured April 10, 2013 at 09:38 AM
Agreed, A Frozen Yogurt Truck Would Be Great.
competition is a good thing April 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Would you care to elaborate your arguments concerning New Canaan mobile food vendors? Please record a free massage at https://www.facebook.com/BensCarts/app_220538321370654
michael Wood April 11, 2013 at 10:19 AM
I don't get it, being a current operating food vender that operates in a small town, I just don't get it. I have a resturant on both ends of the block with in a block of my cart, I have stores that sale hotdogs for 1/4 of my price, I have 15 other resturants within 3 miles of my operations and we are get along, they need a good place to eat lunch too. I have a local business license, Serve Safe Certified, Health Inspections twice a year (more if the inspector wishes), a Sales Tax ID Number, I donate to about 5 different non profits yearly, I pay my local CPA to handle my taxes, I buy a large about of my products locally, to including fuel, food products, supplies, etc, etc.. I advertise locally, I clean up the area that I operate in to ensure my site is nice for my customers, I give directions to visitors passing throght our little town, and even recommend restruants. I provide a service to the community. In saying all of this what does a brick and mortor operation do that I don't. Duggs Doggs, Good!! Good!!
Paul M Potenza April 23, 2013 at 09:38 AM
Why is the first selectman worried about competition? Other established businesses have seen zoning ordinances violated in order to serve special interests within the P&Z resulting in increased competition for those established businesses. Why are the restaurants, many of which have been in town for less than a decade, receive special consideration?


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