After what felt like months of discussion and debates, Newport City Council moved forward last night with a new ordinance for Mobile Food Establishments (food trucks and food carts).

Going into last night’s City Council meeting, the following ordinance was proposed ( What’sUpNewp is working on getting a copy of the final official ordinance);

The following amendments were made by Councilor McCalla and approved by council, they will be in the final version of the ordinance (Unofficial language);

  • Mobile Food Trucks are limited to taking up no more than two parking spaces.
  • Mobile Food Trucks is limited to those zoning districts where restaurants are allowed, no closer than 250 feet, as well as adjacent to Miantonomi Park and parking spaced adjacent to King Park.

A proposed amendment made by McCalla to allow food trucks and carts to operate from 11 am to 10 pm failed. Also, a proposed amendment to allow food carts to operate within 250 feet of restaurants failed.

The City of Newport’s mobile food establishments ordinance went into effect immediately with the City Council’s vote last night.

You can watch last night’s discussion the topic (and the full City Council meeting) here.

In Summary

  • Food trucks and food carts must be licensed.
  • There is a max of six food truck licenses and six food car license available. One Mobile Food Establishment is allowed per permit and a operator may only obtain one permit.
  • The license feel for each is $75 per year or any part of a year.
  • Food carts or trucks participating in a special event fall under a mass gather license ($300 fee).
  • Food Trucks can operate adjacent to Miantonomi Park and King Park, and in any legal parking space that is at least 250 feet from restaurants.
  • Food Carts can operate at Eisenhower Park, Perrotti Park, King Park, Miantonomi Park and the Community College of Rhode Island.
  • Hours for food carts and food trucks is 11 am to 7 pm.


The need for changes to the City’s ordinances come after the General Assembly passed new legislation regarding food trucks.

The State Mobile Food Establishment Registration Act (2018-S 2502B2018-H 7790A), which was first introduced by Sen. Dawn Euer and House Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy in 2018 on behalf of the Department of Administration, standarizes the business registration process for trucks or carts that sell food, ice cream or lemonade by creating a state mobile food establishment registration, and would explicitly exempt such establishments from laws regulating hawkers and peddlers.

Previously, food truck and cart operators had to navigate different regulatory structures in each municipality in which they operate.

The bill maintained the ability of municipalities to regulate location and hours of operation, which City Council is hoping to do with this workshop and these new ordinances.

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