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Long Beach to allow food stands at the beach

Long Beach restaurants will be able serve their

Long Beach restaurants will be able serve their fare from food trucks this summer, adding an amenity business representatives hope will attract visitors as the city recovers from superstorm Sandy. These businesses are along West Beech Street. (Feb. 6, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

Long Beach restaurants will be able to serve their fare from food trucks this summer, a change in policy intended to help boost tourism and local businesses.

Some restaurant owners worried about costs are hoping the city will also allow simpler food stands near the beach.

Officials say they hope food trucks will attract visitors as the area recovers from superstorm Sandy, and will enhance the beach, which will be without its iconic boardwalk this summer.

"We can use food trucks as a local opportunity for our restaurants to bring in revenue and provide the opportunity for visitors to our city during the summer to enjoy the food," said Long Beach City manager Jack Schnirman. The paperwork and permitting process are being finalized.

Alan Adams, the owner of Sugo Cafe, said he has already purchased a food truck for use this summer; it cost him around $30,000. Adams said he hopes to get around five other businesses to join him in a food-truck fleet in Long Beach.

Some restaurateurs worry about the cost of buying a food truck when wallets are already burdened by Sandy repairs.

"They're an investment, I don't think every restaurant, pizza place and deli can afford to do that," said Long Beach Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Mark Tannenbaum. The restaurants are "rebuilding themselves; they can barely afford to do it. We're trying to put it on an equal opportunity for everybody."

Tannenbaum said he will discuss the idea of food stands with Schnirman at a meeting the two will have Wednesday, where they will also go over more initiatives on rebuilding the local economy.

Gregg LaPenna, the owner of A Whale's Tale in Long Beach, said he isn't sure if he will be able to afford a food truck. His seafood restaurant and sports bar had to be gutted after Sandy. He opened the bar area last month, and the kitchen will start serving food at the beginning of April.

"I love the idea that the city is even thinking about even allowing us to sell food" near the beach, he said. "As far as a food truck, I don't own one . . . I think it limits the other restaurant owners."

The Chamber of Commerce also hopes the city will host street fairs where local merchants will be given priority.

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