We have a number of restaurants in Sioux Falls with outdoor seating or patios, but there are some places that are outside completely: curbside food vendors. Even though they are not exactly traditional restaurants, owners do not get any breaks from following health code guidelines.
Ben Markham is one of the newest chefs in town. He buys local ingredients every day; beef from Look's Meat Market, fresh peppers, crisp apples and arugula from Co-Op Natural Foods. Everything is combined to make gourmet-type sandwiches.
"It changes daily. I mean, I was out last night until 11 p.m. and the menu is totally different right now," Markham said.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is the fact it all comes from a white truck with the name 'Curb Belly' hastily spray painted on the sides. Markham spent time in California and New York City where food trucks are on every block. Curb Belly has been spicing up city dining in Sioux Falls for seven weeks. It looks simple, but Markham has rules to follow to make sure what he serves meets health code standards.
"I have to have everything a restaurant has. I have to have a trap sink, sanitary buckets, a hood system. It's like a full service restaurant," Markham said.
Curbside vendors are all over Sioux Falls and need full restaurant licenses from the city and state along with a peddler's and sales tax license to legally operate. If vendors want to sell downtown, they need a separate permit.
"We look at hygiene and make sure they're being safe," Environmental Health Specialist Mark Schuttloffel said.
The trucks might look rough on the outside, but inside they have to be clean and have clean equipment. Food cannot be stored longer than a week. Workers are required to wear rubber gloves for 'ready-to-eat' foods, but are not required to if the food will be cooked. According to Schuttloffel, these are the same rules for any traditional restaurant. Curbside vendors do have a few extras to keep in mind though.
"If they were operating under severe weather conditions, we might make sure they're not being contaminated by dust, debris and insects," Schuttloffel said.
Following these rules is easy for Markham, who wants this food to be safe and enjoyable.
"It's nice watching someone walk away with something they get off a truck that looks like this, and then they taste it and they're like 'Wow!'" Markham said.