Food trucks get green light to roll into Jerusalem
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Food trucks get green light to roll into Jerusalem

Restaurateurs look to bring more gourmet options to office parks, industrial areas while trying out possible expansion opportunities

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The last time Jerusalem had a food truck was in the summer of 2013, when chef Assaf Granit served up tasty, cheap eats during the Jerusalem Season of Culture (Leeor Bronis/Times of Israel)
The last time Jerusalem had a food truck was in the summer of 2013, when chef Assaf Granit served up tasty, cheap eats during the Jerusalem Season of Culture (Leeor Bronis/Times of Israel)

New food options are coming to Jerusalem, as food trucks, those restaurants on wheels, will finally be parked in the city’s streets as of this summer.

It’s an urban culinary element that’s been in demand for some time, but Health Ministry regulations repeatedly vetoed the possibility. One exception was a food truck run by chef Assaf Granit during the Jerusalem Season of Culture Food Trip back 2013.

The latest effort is being called AutoChef, with a fleet of five to seven trucks, each with a single culinary specialty and run by a local restaurant.

By moving around industrial areas and office parks such as Talpiot and Har Hotzvim each day, the trucks will serve areas without easy access to gourmet options, while restauranteurs will be able to explore expansion ideas without taking the financial risk involved in opening a new branch in a lesser-known area.

The fleet of food trucks will drive to different residential neighborhoods, parks and tourist areas throughout the city, creating a kind of foodie pop-up event.

A look at the FoodTrip food truck, while serving dinner in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem (photo credit: Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
The FoodTrip food truck serving dinner in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2013. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

It took a year to find this particular solution, said a spokesperson for JLM i-team, the consulting group founded and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies which works in conjunction with the municipality’s business development department on certain areas and problems in Jerusalem.

“These are changing times,” said the spokesperson. “It’s been a collaborative process making the regulations work for new trends.”

A call for bids from local restauranteurs for AutoChef opened this week and there will be a meeting for bidders on April 11, hosted by the city’s business development department.

The restauranteurs must be seasoned food business owners with several years experience, said the JLM i-team spokesperson.

The West Bank doesn't seem to have the same food truck ban, with the "Food Train" food truck of Palestinian owners al-Barghuti and al-Bibi, in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 3, 2016. (AFP/ABBAS MOMANI)
A Palestinian food truck in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 3, 2016. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Besides bringing more options to particular neighborhoods, the food truck initiative aims to offer more commercial opportunities in certain areas of the city that lack sufficient infrastructure.

“The Jerusalem culinary scene is renowned worldwide, appealing to visitors and residents alike,” said Mayor Nir Barkat. “We want to bring restaurants to residents, workplaces and neighborhoods in order to connect Jerusalemites with their local businesses.”

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