“Have you heard anything about food carts getting pushed out of downtown?”

– Sarah E

In late November, a number of Bungalower readers started reaching out to us sharing that some of their favorite local food carts in the Central Business District were disappearing, and they couldn’t figure out why.

Some readers pointed fingers at new brick-and-mortar restaurants that didn’t want the competition, and others at overzealous code inspectors from City Hall, and after some digging, it looks like it was more of the latter.

We spoke with a number of local food cart operators who frequent the Central Business District, with a number of them sharing that they had been asked to shut down for not having the right permit to operate in the public right-of-way – something they all shared they knew nothing about.

None of those vendors wished to be named for fear of retribution from the City, which they said was already trying to make right due to feedback from their protective, and vocal, customers.

Ashley Papagni, the Public Information Officer for the Mayor’s office, confirmed that any crackdowns that may be happening at the moment were because some vendors may not have the proper licenses, saying:

“As the city continues to make significant investments and improvements to our downtown, it has been brought to the city’s attention that some downtown street vendors may have been operating without the proper city licenses.

In response to this, Code Enforcement staff went out and reviewed the potential violations of code and handed out warning notices to late-night food vendors downtown that were operating in violation of the City’s Code – Section 54.27-1, which prohibits people from conducting business on the rights of way of the City. 

Part of this warning notice, included information on how they can operate legally and in compliance with the City’s code by going through the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) process to operate on private property.”


When a number of street vendors were told they could no longer operate downtown in the public right-of-way, they took to social media to rally their customers for support. As a result, the mayor’s office has allegedly directed city staff to issue temporary use permits to existing vendors in downtown Orlando who are using sidewalks to remain in place until the end of the year, buying them time to operate in compliance with city code. Those permits are scheduled to run out by the end of the year.

The City of Orlando is currently drafting a new pilot program that will allow registered, compliant food carts to sell in the Central Business District in approved locations, but that program is still under review and not likely to come into effect until sometime next year.

Though the City won’t say for sure, the crackdown on street vendors is likely a direct result of the mayor’s push to shut down the “street party atmosphere” that downtown Orlando has become known for, which, according to city officials, contributes to a laissez-faire atmosphere of open container drinking, public intoxication, and the recent uptick in crime.

Officials have been hammering home that downtown-goers that choose to hang in the streets, rather than go inside local businesses, are likely up to no good, and things that promote that behavior, including outdoor speakers, sidewalk seating (and likely food carts), have got to go – at least until crime rates have dropped to pre-pandemic levels.

Do you have something you want us to look into for you? Send your question to [email protected] and we’ll check it out!

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

Leave a comment

Have something to say? Type it below. Holding back can give you pimples.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.