Fast-food is no new trend, but in Rexburg it’s big business.
A major part of the fast-food boom in Rexburg is the young demographic. Many of Rexburg’s residents are students at Bringham Young University-Idaho and fast food is a cheap fix on a student budget.
According to the Leakage Report, a survey taken by the city of 1,000 residents on what and where they spend money, fast-food was the big one. The survey included both traditional fast-food restaurants and temporary and seasonal shops.
“People are coming from larger areas where they’re used to fast food choices and temporary and seasonal choices and it’s also about experience, they want something kind of hip and cool, unique,” said Scott Johnson, director of economic development in Rexburg.
Julio Ortiz, the owner of a Mexican food truck, caters his business to diverse taste buds.
“I try to make what I would make for myself, I try to give them a little bit of Mexico, you know,” said Ortiz.
He has been operating his fast food truck for more than two years, but serving as a temporary vendor means he has to move his mobile shop every six months because of Ordinance 1029. With each move Ortiz needs to find a new location, pay for lot rental, electricity for his truck and moving expenses.
“People will say, ‘Why don’t you open a restaurant?’ Well, that means my expense will increase that means (an) increase in prices on the food, and all of the people won’t be able to afford it, especially here with the college. They can only afford so much,” said Ortiz.
Brick and mortar stores have to pay property taxes, which seasonal shops don’t, but as far as meeting other regulatory criteria, Johnson said they are heavily regulated.
“The health department has to check and make sure they’re oOK to serve food and meet requirements with electrical and those things, so they’re still inspected that way.” Said Johnson.
The debate over fairness and regulation for temporary and seasonal vendors will continue. The city council plans to hold more public meetings to hear from both sides. No date has been set for future meetings but city leaders are aiming for a mid-January date.