It's getting closer: Barrels arrive at Fort Mill's Amor Artis Brewing
It started with a food truck.
What happened next involved Main Street businesses, craft beer enthusiasts, the town, its mayor, the state transportation department and a Facebook fracas questioning loyalties in the downtown area.
And, it well could end with a food truck.
“We certainly have the framework, I think,” said Mayor Guynn Savage.
On Wednesday, Amor Artis Brewing, a new brew pub that opened last month on Main, posted an Instagram picture to its Facebook page letting customers know there wouldn’t be any food trucks this week.
The message noted the business was “working with the town on a resolution and will have one in place by next week.” Supporters responded. Some offered to make calls.
Mayor Guynn Savage replied that people could call, but the issue involved the transportation department. She stated “inaccurate information helps no one” and ended her response with “shame on you.”
Then came the comments. Dozens wanted more information, or criticized the mayor’s response. They called for change to allow food trucks.
Savage replied once more, stating she was “sorry that it appeared to be disrespectful or dishonorable” but also that she’d been working hard on what’s an issue involving the South Carolina department of transportation.
On Thursday morning, Savage said she didn’t want to comment on the Facebook exchange or further explain any comments made there. She did discuss the larger issue involving the food truck and what the town is doing to resolve it.
“The department of transportation had indicated there was an issue, so then we began looking at our regulations (on food trucks) and we found that we did not have an ordinance that addresses that, and we are developing one,” she said.
The transportation department isn’t specific to food trucks or about a town law, she said. Rather, it’s about Main Street itself.
“It never said ‘food trucks in the town,’” Savage said. “It said ‘on their right-of-way.’ Which Main Street is theirs. And the sidewalks on Main Street are theirs.”
The town did receive calls about there being food trucks on the street.
“We had some calls in regards to the food truck on Main,” Savage said. “And of course when we get those calls we have to determine what laws or requirements or restrictions are out there.”
Which led to the transportation department concern.
“It’s a very narrow street,” Savage said. “And with parking on both sides and more and more pedestrians there, it’s something that we have to pay attention to to ensure the safety of these people who are loving the changes downtown.”
She’s refering to new restuarants and shops that have sprouted up where empty storefronts stood for years.
Savage said the town is working with downtown businesses to allow food trucks on a temporary basis in the parking lot behind the establishment while town staff works out whatever new rules it may need to prevent similar problems from happening again. The new rules would require food trucks to have a business license, collect the hospitality tax on prepared food and generally adhere to other rules common to Fort Mill businesses.
The idea expressed by some during the Facebook exchange that Savage doesn’t support downtown businesses or a downtown brewery in particular are off base, Savage said.
“There’s never been anything but support,” she said of business in town, “without breaking the law.”
For Amor Artis supporters, attention then can return to the food and drink.