Pizzeria owner wants to see food trucks come to Athens

ATHENS, Ala. - Food trucks are a growing trend, and the owner of Joe's Famous Pizzeria wants to see it in Athens.

Joe Carlucci went before the city council and wanted to see how to go about making it happen. He's had a mobile oven for over a year, and has seen its success at festivals and events around the Tennessee Valley, but now wants to see it in his own backyard.

He believes it would be a win all around: for businesses like his, for the cities, and for residents, all while keeping money and people in town.

"It's bringing revenue, it's bringing entertainment for families, less travel, less of a headache, why not do it," said Carlucci.

"Really he was the catalyst that we needed to get things rolling on it," said Athens City Council President Joseph Cannon.

Currently, they're not widely allowed, only in industrial areas. Cannon explains they would have to change policies to allow businesses to get permits.

"I would want the business owners to drive it more than us," said Cannon. "After all, that's why we're here, to make sure it all works out for them, they should have a big say in it."

Carlucci proposed a committee, of which he'd be a part, made up of business owners, like his mentors at Earth & Stone Pizza in Huntsville, and experienced food truck operators, to monitor its implementation in the city.

Carlucci and Cannon agree, they would not want food trucks to take away from existing commerce; they are both against putting a food truck outside a standing restaurant.

But Carlucci has tons of ideas, wanting to see them at the city's events and festivals.

"We’re not talking about going out there and taking business," he said. "We’re talking about a separate area where we could have events, where the sportsplex is, there are events there. Every weekend there's something going on; and during the day at businesses for lunch or dinner where those people only have a 30 minute break and can't get lunch, have a food truck out there."

Cannon says it would require a lot more conversation but would be great for the city.

"A lot of us have gone to rallies at other places and said 'how do we do this but keep Athens?' We're not trying to be Decatur, not trying to be Huntsville," said Cannon. "We're Athens, how do we put our spin on it?"

As much as residents commute to street food rallies in Huntsville and other cities, Carlucci hopes it could potentially bring residents to Athens.