WELLSBORO – The Wandering Barista, a food truck specializing in coffee, baked goods and meals, has received approval from the Wellsboro Borough Council to operate as a drive-thru near the borough line.
Mansfield owner Erin de los Rios plans to operate the drive-thru food truck at the east end of the Sid Harvey property, formerly the Eagle Family Foods factory.
Council voted 5-1 at the September 27 meeting to give conditional use of the food truck with Craig West, John Sticklin, Matt DeCamp, Joan Hart and Mike Wood in favor and Lou Prevost against.
Initially, The Wandering Barista will operate between normal food truck hours, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. De los Rios has applied to the Zoning Hearing Board for permission to operate outside of these hours, 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 00 to serve customers before head to work.
De los Rios said Wellsboro only has one drive-thru option for coffee, and believes its espresso drinks and baked goods would appeal to residents and visitors alike. In addition to coffee from Necessary Coffee in Lancaster, it will offer oat milk, sugar-free, low-carb, and gluten-free and gluten-free items.
Five people testified in favor of de los Rios’ proposal.
Brad Goodwin, owner of The Red Skillet, a brick-and-mortar restaurant that started out as a food truck, said he welcomed the competition and felt there would be no problem if the restaurant was at inside a building.
“I would much rather give my money to a local person who is trying to support their family rather than a big franchise,” said Christina Vandergrift.
Jerry Curreri, owner of Timeless Destination, said he supports the new restaurants, but it’s a unique time with the pandemic. Food trucks have a different playing field, do not pay taxes or are not asked to provide as much support to the community as traditional trucks, he said.
“We need our main street. We can’t have empty buildings on Main Street; it sends a dangerous message, ”Curreri said.
Prevost said the food truck would be in direct competition with at least two Main Street restaurants. Additionally, he expressed safety concerns at the proposed location which is within a 45 mph zone.
He urged the council to consider adding an addendum to the current ordinance to restrict food trucks to major events and festivals, and not allow year-round operation.
But Wood said coffee drinkers often love one brand to the exclusion of others and will go out of their way to get their favorite.
“Tourists love the city. The people who live here love the city. We have to help everyone be successful in business, ”said Wood.