Bethel is blessed with a vibrant retail community, and a diverse and bountiful dining scene downtown, in Stony Hill and in Grassy Plain. But these businesses need our support. They face tremendous obstacles, and unfortunately sometimes otherwise well meaning folks place even more obstacles in their way.
Restaurants are a perfect example.
Imagine if the Town promoted an event that every other week brought in a half dozen or more out of town businesses to sell hardware in front of a local hardware store. Or to cut hair near local barbershops. Or to sell books a block away from our local book stores. Or to sell toys near our downtown shops. We'd all be outraged. Yet that is exactly what happens every other week in the summer, except it's out of town food trucks taking business away from the more than 50 local restaurants in Bethel.
Bethel has over 50 eateries, representing a huge array of tastes. Yet instead of highlighting the amazing diversity and selection of these businesses, who pay taxes, who employ hundreds of local people, who buy goods and services from other local businesses, who attract customers from other towns, who generously donate to our schools and other causes whenever asked, and who keep more than 50 retail locations from becoming an empty blight upon our community, instead of focusing on them, we bring in mobile competitors from other communities to literally take the customers and food from their tables. The Town aggressively promotes this biweekly assault on it's largest base of businesses and calls it Food Truck Friday, and throws in a free concert to celebrate the devastation.
Here is a list from the Town website of the food vendors at this Summer-long event, and where they say they come from: Blue Pig, Danbury, Big Green Eggs, Woodbury, Chef Zip Exchange, Danbury, Cinnamon Churros, Danbury, Cookie Cloud 9, Roxbury, DrewBaq, Trumbull, Fork in the Road, Danbury, Green Grunion, Danbury, Ma & Pa's Traveling Kitchen, Danbury, Polar Pete's, Trumbull, Rice & Beans, Danbury, Salsa Fresca, Danbury, Sonny's Grinders, Southbury, Szabo's Seafood, Shelton, Weenielynns, Danbury. See any from Bethel? We didn't, either, although the Scotty Fund does sell lemonade.
These out-of-town food trucks pay a one time seasonal fee of $115 to the Health Department and no other taxes to Bethel.
We love a party with food as much as anyone else, but we would prefer to see the Town come together to sponsor a regular celebration of our local restaurants and not facilitate and promote more than a dozen out of town competitors who hurt so many vital local businesses. Bethel needs a healthy base of local business to maintain our charming downtown and retail centers, to keep our community healthy, prosperous and safe, and to maintain property values. We need to help our local business. Importing out-of-town competitors hurts everyone.
Shop Local and Eat Local means keeping all of our local businesses, and by extension Bethel, a vibrant and healthy community.