Mobile food trucks ready to bring variety to Horry County

Alyssa Bowen, Nick Maglionico and Tony Gibbs look over the menu at the Road Rooster food wagon on Prince Lawn on the Coastal Carolina University campus.
Alyssa Bowen, Nick Maglionico and Tony Gibbs look over the menu at the Road Rooster food wagon on Prince Lawn on the Coastal Carolina University campus. cslate@thesunnews.com

Karl Moser has a county-issued sticker to obtain the first permit to operate a mobile food truck in Horry County, and rightfully so.

The entrepreneur was the pioneer that prompted the Horry County Council to consider bringing the wildly popular business model around the nation to Horry County – with the council finally approving the trucks last week after 18 months of work and debate.

“That’s already reserved,” Moser said of the first permit. “That’s mine.”

The food truck issue began in November 2013 after Moser sought to expand his business into the county. Horry County policy did not permit mobile food trucks, but allows push carts.

A special committee and county staff spent nearly a year surveying the public, developing fee rates and regulations, and crafting a plan for a one-year pilot program that would test the viability of food trucks in the county.

But in October, Horry County Council voted 9-3 against the pilot program. In its place, county leaders suggested the trucks be limited to serving pre-packaged food on job sites far from brick-and-mortar restaurants. Some council members worried that the food trucks would lure business from traditional eating places. There are more than 1,800 restaurants along the Grand Strand.

Moser said he was driven to find a venue for residents to become entrepreneurs and create jobs throughout the county.

“The whole thing about it, more than anything else, was to bring more jobs to Horry County,” Moser said, adding food trucks can typically have up to three employees per truck. “This is a tourist town. There’s not much work here. This is a cheap enough investment to get involved in where people can actually get some pride back in themselves and work for themselves and start their own company.”

County officials amended the ordinance, which passed Tuesday, to include multiple trucks for one property, which Joe Perl, general manager for Myrtle Beach Mall pushed for to include variety at his mall site.

“It’s not just for the mall, but it’s to bring a unique dining experience to Myrtle Beach and all parts of the county,” Perl said just before the measure passed.

Moser said he plans to serve barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, meatball subs, chicken bog and coleslaw, and would like to set up at the Horry County Government and Justice Complex and the Department of Motor Vehicles in Conway.

“The DMV in Conway would be a great location,” Moser said. “People stand in line for hours to get in the DMV. Let them eat something to keep them calm and comfortable.”

Moser said a lot of the county, and its tourists, come from the Northeast and Ohio and are familiar with food trucks.

“It’s a normal transition for them,” Moser said. “I figured it would be a good thing to get behind. It’s going to work and it’s going to create jobs.”

Moser said his goal is to have 10 trucks in the county, and is appreciative the council found a way to make the trucks a reality.

“I think it’s way past time for it,” Moser said. “I’m glad council finally looked at it and said let’s give these guys a shot. That’s all we ask.”

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or on Twitter @TSN_JRodriguez.

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