POWELL, Tenn. (WATE)– The excitement of a new food truck park in Powell was short-lived after the owners were told to shut it down temporarily due to code violations.
Amanda Anderson and Brandon Scarlett own the Powell Food Park located at 1516 W. Emory Road. As a nurse and a concrete worker, the couple said they weren’t sure what all they needed to do to get the place ready for business.
“This was just a bare bones, test to market, just to see if it would work,” Scarlett said.
Before the grand opening on June 4, the couple thought they filled out the proper paperwork for their park. There wasn’t much information available saying they didn’t have everything they needed.
“When you go to search online steps to take to what you need to do to get a new business open, it’s not super clear, so a lot of it was kind of trial by fire,” Scarlett said.
They did what they knew by hand: installed gravel, painted the building on the property, picked out the perfect tables and painted them. The couple said they did very well for opening weekend. On June 4, they said they had a few hundred people come and go from the park.
“It was, it was just amazing. People would show up and see people that they haven’t saw in 10 years and say, ‘hiya, hiya,” and sit down and have a meal together,” Scarlett said.
Anderson said they had a lot of repeat customers on the same night just for that reason: community.
They said the food trucks sold out by the end of the night because they had so many people stop by, and people had to fill up the additional parking at the Crossroads Fitness Studio. However, after that weekend, they were told to temporarily shut down by the Knox County Codes Enforcement–which is under the Public Works and Engineering Department.
“We had porta-potties. We figured that would be sufficient since everyone else in the area has porta-potties. Didn’t know it was an issue or had a code on that. Knox County came in and said that we actually have to have two (permanent) bathrooms on site,” Anderson said.
Anderson and Scarlett actually had a few changes they needed to make before getting approval from the county to operate, like parking and moving an electrical outlet, but the restrooms will be the hardest–and most expensive–part to bring up to code.
Although other food truck park locations in the city and county use portable restrooms, Jim Snowden, the Public Works and Engineering Department Director, said the situation was a little different for the Powell Food Park.
According to Snowden, unlike the city, the county doesn’t have ordinances specifically tailored for food truck parks. He said because of that, the county is basing the code regulations off the International Building Code for transient vendors.
Snowden said according to that code, because the Powell Food Park property has a permanent structure–and employees will be inside the structure– the park needs two permanent bathrooms and a mop sink.
Of course, Anderson and Scarlett didn’t budget for permanent restrooms when they decided to open the food truck park, and they didn’t learn about the requirement until after the fact. They could afford the $200 a month for portable restrooms.
“We can’t come out of pocket $10,000 with three small kids to try and get it back operational to where they’re saying it needs to be,” Scarlett said.
That’s why they are asking for the community’s help. They planned to improve the park with concrete parking for the food trucks and a pavilion, but now they need ADA compliance restrooms.
The couple set up a GoFundMe donation page and they plan to host fundraisers, yard sales and vendor fairs at the site (without the use of the building) until they can raise enough money to build the bathrooms.
Some other small business owners in the community, such as 865 Axe Throwing, has already offered to host a fundraiser for the restrooms, according to Anderson.
Both Anderson and Scarlett said starting a new small business was more difficult than it should be. So, they said they are working with the Knox County commission to make some sort of check list for future business owners.
“Maybe the next people don’t have to go through all this,” Scarlett said.
They loved what they built, and loved seeing the community come out and have a good time, so they’re hoping to get the renovations done and install the bathrooms by the end of July, if the funding is there.
If you would like to help donate for the bathrooms, you can head to the GoFundMe by clicking here.