Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz took to Facebook on Saturday to respond to criticism regarding the recent announcement of Chick-fil-A bringing a food truck to Tiffin every other week beginning next Wednesday.
Some local restaurant owners and patrons have expressed concern to Montz that the Chick-fil-A truck would take business away from local restaurants at a time when many are struggling to stay afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I know people want something new and are craving for their favorites but this is absolutely NOT a good time to promote non- local businesses. Our local businesses need your support!,” Rose Stalz wrote in a Facebook comment directed towards the mayor.
“Wow really? I’m disappointed in this. Taking away business from our local places…especially at a time like this,” Jimmy Smith wrote.
“Let me say this, I completely understand restaurant owners’ concerns over the food truck coming to town. Many are scared, and rightfully so, as there is no indication when indoor dining may be permitted by the State of Ohio due to COVID-19,” Montz wrote.
Montz said that “businesses either come to us or we recruit them,” and that his administration has not been actively recruiting any fast food restaurants “for the better part of a year now.”
“Our efforts have been focused primarily around retail, manufacturing, and medical. Chick-fil-A approached us months ago, well ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Montz explained.
Montz said there is no “permission” that any legal business needs to obtain from the city in order to open. “In the case of Chick-fil-A, they are parking their truck in a public parking lot. If the city told them they could not use a public parking lot, they easily could have approached any private parking lot and opened right there without even telling the city. However, at the same time, the city has allowed food trucks to use public parking lots for years,” Montz wrote.
“Chick-fil-A was originally scheduled to come to Tiffin starting April 1st, and had planned to do more than twice per month. Due to the pandemic, we requested they delay their truck to Tiffin and not come as often. As it stands now, the truck will likely only make 12 total appearances as by the end of October it will likely be too cold for folks to wait outside. This is 12 days out of 366 days (2020 is a leap year). We asked for this changes so that it wouldn’t impede upon our local businesses,” Montz wrote.
Montz also announced in his post that he is forming a Reopening Task Force for the City of Tiffin.
“The goal of this group is to figure out ways to help our local businesses reopen safely, but also figure out ways to help businesses that have been struggling throughout this pandemic,” Montz said. “The group will be interviewing local business owners to obtain their ideas on ways we can benefit the small business community in Tiffin. We are Tiffin Strong and will support one another.”
Montz said his team is going to “fight for our local businesses and go above and beyond to help them get back on their feet,” but did not provide any additional details as to how that would happen.
Chick-fil-A plans to bring a food truck to Tiffin every other week on Wednesdays starting May 6.
The truck will have a limited menu of chicken sandwiches, waffle fries and lemonade and sweet tea.
The truck is to be parked from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. at Tiffin Municipal Lot 6, at the corner of Monroe Street and Madison Street.
To maintain social distancing, customers will be able to “drive thru,” ordering from their vehicle with the food brought to them by an employee.
“We are very excited for Chick-fil-A to be coming to Tiffin, I hear more requests from residents for this restaurant than any other. This allows Chick-fil-A to test the Tiffin market, and will hopefully bring a future brick & mortar store to the community,” Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz tweeted on Friday.