GRANOLAPARK: First the man takes a bite, then the bite takes the man

Photo: Food trucks at the annual Takoma Park Folk Festival, 2014. Photo by Bill Brown


Dear Readers,

Takoma park city councilmembers Terry Seamens and Jarrett Smith poured out a few shots of stiff resistance at the March 23 council meeting to beer sales and consumption on city-owned land.

Takoma Truck Garden – featuring food trucks selling food and beer on the city-owned Takoma Junction lot – is an event proposed by the Old Town Business Association, along with local restaurants, stores and a food-truck . It’s in celebration of state law changes: one that that makes it easier for brewpubs to sell their product and one that makes it easier for food trucks to operate. Because the county and state figured out they were stifling a booming industry – and missing out on tax revenue.

The Truck Garden is proposed for June 2, 12 – 5 PM, with food trucks, beer sales and live music.

Since there’s never been an event on city property with, you know,  B . . . E . . . E . . . R,  the organizers went to the council to gauge their opinion: i.e. they executed a flanking maneuver around the city permit office, which might have turned them down.

Only the two aforementioned council members opposed alcohol sales and consumption on public property. Councilmember Fred Schultz said he wasn’t thrilled about setting a precedent. He didn’t say he’d vote against it, but he worried about opening the door for more requests, visualizing, we suppose, beer-fueled Kenye West-like interruptions at the Takoma Foundation Azalea Awards ceremony, or the entire Independence Day Parade swilling suds and staggering down Carroll Avenue.

Maybe if the council allowed sports-stadium style beer vendors at city council meetings, they’d get bigger audiences.

Co-owner and head brewer Jeff Ramirez pours beer in the beer garden.

The Silver Spring brew-pub Denizens could not have opened under previous state and county laws. File photo by Bill Brown.

Terry Seamens said he strongly objects to the city’s expanding support of alcohol sales. The city is attempting to change state law to loosen the city’s alcohol laws. Their goal is to allow beer-and-wine stores in Takoma Park, and to allow restaurants to brew beer – as the Republic restaurant wishes to.

Takoma Park, founded by teetotalers, was a “dry” town until the 1980s when the city council got the laws changed to allow city restaurants to serve liquor. The liquor laws, even those concerning counties and cities, are not easy to change. They are state statutes. Revisions can only be made with state assembly votes.

Seamens requested a community alcohol-abuse discussion be added to a future council agenda. Public sales of alcohol would only exacerbate the problem, he said. Jarrett Smith said he was not comfortable having alcohol on public property, given accounts he’s heard from the local hospital about alcohol-abuse cases treated there.

Seamens acknowledged that the vote would probably pass, but he asked that funds raised by the event go to a non-profit that helps those who suffer from alcohol abuse.

The US Center for Disease Control says that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths yearly in the United States from 2006 to 2010.

The event would also serve food.

The US Center for Disease Control also says that more than one third of Americans are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Diabetes alone is the seventh leading cause of death in the United states. 75,578 died from diabetes in 2013.

Yet, no councilmember mentioned this national food abuse epidemic, or seemed concerned that public sales of food would exacerbate the problem locally.

None of them mentioned local hospital beds filled with tragic victims, nor did they propose food-abuse council discussions. None proposed donating Takoma Truck Garden proceeds to a non-profit that combats obesity.

– Gilbert

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About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.