The efforts of YoknapaTaco truck owner Jake Sessums and assistant city planner Ben Requet have formed new city ordinances making it easier for food trucks to operate within city limits and in apartment complexes.
Article IV was added to section 66 of the code of ordinances of the city of Oxford, outlining specific rules for mobile food vending within city limits in January. The addition gave mobile food vendors permission to sell food in Oxford with a license and outlined specific rules regarding the location and operation of the trucks.
According to Requet, the city is currently amending the ordinance to allow a food truck vendor to sell within multi-unit residential complexes by special exception.
Requet said he started receiving inquiries about food truck regulations last summer and discovered that the rules in Oxford were very limited.
“I don’t think it was quite enough information,” Requet said. “So, I kind of set out on a quest for at least putting together a better framework for us to work with them with food trucks.”
Requet said he’s been to several cities that embrace food trucks, and he thinks it is a really good opportunity as long as it doesn’t threaten the quality of life in Oxford.
“I think when we developed this ordinance, we were pretty mindful of developing a sound policy, so we worked with Jake Sessums of YoknapaTaco to kind of see what were the challenges that he’s seen from the application process up until operation at this point,” Requet said. “He was very helpful and insightful in some of these things.”
Sessums explained to Requet the processes he went through to start his taco truck to help provide guidelines for the changes. Requet added that he also utilized food truck ordinances from around the state and country.
“That was always the plan— to use this truck as a template and really work with the city of Oxford to develop what was then an absent guideline for how food trucks could, would work in this town,” Sessums said.
According to Sessums, YoknapaTaco currently sets up shop next to Jones at Home every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 10:30 p.m. until 30 minutes after the bar closes or when the truck runs out of food.
“I would love to see a more variable late-night scene though, for sure,” Sessums said. “But for that to be the case, we need more food trucks here.”
Mobile Food Vending yearly permits cost $275 per unit in Oxford.
In relation to Ole Miss, Sessums said a lot of red tape involving preexisting contracts the University holds with their food providers currently makes it difficult for outside vendors to sell individual products to consumers.
Sessums said he hopes to work with the University in bringing food trucks on campus.
“Imagine 10 to 15 food trucks lining the Grove on a football Saturday,” Sessums said. “Wouldn’t that be great?”
Sessums currently runs an operation called The Hick Wallflower, which began as a space to prepare and store food for YoknapaTaco and has expanded to offer event promotion and business consulting for others looking to venture into mobile vending.
“Being that I am one of, if not the first, to do something like this here in Oxford, I have been lucky to be involved, even if indirectly, with the process of putting the ordinance together,” Sessums said.