Burien Food Truck Pilot Program hopes to provide options to neighborhoods with limited restaurant choices

The City of Burien hopes to expand its culinary palette with the help of food trucks. In early 2021, city council approved plans for the Burien Food Truck Pilot Program. Now that Washington state has reopened, the city can safely move forward with applications.

Van and Amanda Kirk are the owners of Burien Fish House. Before serving customers their specialty California fish tacos at their restaurant, they first did it from a food truck for years. 

"It was a good start for us because it was an affordable start," said Van Kirk.

The affordable start helped them grow their business over the last 10 years. Now they operate in a custom-built kitchen.

That example of success is a goal other entrepreneurs in the area want a taste of. Part of the city’s pilot program hopes to encourage "growth of food-oriented businesses that may subsequently invest in a brick-and-mortar location in Burien."

"I think it’s an opportunity for people who can’t open a restaurant. It gives them an opportunity to get out there and show what they can do," said Amanda Kirk.

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With the exception of a couple neighborhoods, city officials said most of the area’s dining is limited to downtown. One of the goals of the pilot program is to give more food options in neighborhoods that don’t have as many places to eat.

The Kirks said they like the plan, but have some concerns.

"It’s the first step in growing yourself, growing your brand, you name, your food, who you are. But however, the restaurants that are established would rather not see a food truck outside their business and/or stealing our business," said Van. 

The city council approved several regulations and guidelines, including where to park. For example, if a food truck wants to set up within 50 feet of a business--including existing restaurants--the food trucks must get the business owner’s permission first. Permits will be required in order to operate within the city.

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The Kirks cooked up their own ideas of where the trucks should go.

"If these food trucks are in a certain parking lot or area congregated together, it’s going to benefit the foodie to have choices at that location," said Van. "It benefits the foodie because they can go there and have a burger and have a burrito, Asian food, Hawaiian food all in one location. Even me and my wife would go there after work and see the choices all within walking distance of each other."

Applications for the pilot program are available online. Once there are enough trucks signed up, the program will open for one year. The city council will then decide if the idea should become permanent.

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