Town of Southold cracks down on food trucks at wineries

Posted: Updated:

The town of Southold has begun cracking down on food trucks at wineries.

The food trucks are not considered what’s called a “permissible use” at wineries under town code. The town sent out warnings earlier this year saying they would crack down on the practice.

Last weekend, code enforcement visited several wineries. Three wineries were issued appearance tickets for having food trucks on their properties.

Winery owners are upset, saying it was never an issue in previous years. They argue serving food is the responsible thing to do when they’re serving alcohol. They’re hoping the town will consider changing the law to allow them.

Some restaurants in the area privately complain that food trucks have an unfair advantage and are hurting their business. The town says it will continue to issue appearance tickets.

Russ McCall says he's going to continue having the food truck that comes to his Cutchogue vineyard on Friday nights. He also raises cattle on his farm and serves meat from them.

“They serve burgers -- our burgers -- absolutely nothing else,” says McCall. “They buy all the meat from us. So we're basically farming and serving our own product.”

Part of the issue is that Southold's code dealing with wineries is more than 40 years old. It was written when there was just one winery. There are now dozens, and the industry has exploded. Some people say it needs to be rewritten to address topics such as food trucks.

“We need to change with the times, you know? We can't just keep doing the same thing and expect growth,” says Claudia Fleming, who owns a restaurant and a food truck. She says along with the wineries, they're all part of the bigger tourism industry and need to work together.

McCall agrees, saying the industry needs help to stay strong.

“What happens to the North Fork? What happens to the farmland aspect -- this beautiful place? If there's not farms, what is there?” he asks.

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