CHAPMANVILLE — Lonnie Berry, who owns the Tudor’s Biscuit World restaurant in Chapmanville, addressed the Chapmanville Town Council during their regular session Tuesday, April 13, where he asked council to prohibit out-of-town food vendors.
“I pay for a business license. I pay property tax, extremely high property tax,” Berry said. “I have 25 employees at Chapmanville. Those 25 employees at Chapmanville, I have to pay a state tax for them. Now, I’m a hometown boy, OK? Now, we’ve got some businesses in town. Their business is actually located in Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Hazard, Kentucky … not Lonnie. Lonnie buys his gas here, buys his groceries here. As a matter of fact, one person that I talked to told me that they were so busy operating their business in this town that they didn’t even go to Charleston. They said, ‘I buy 100% of my stuff in Chapmanville.’ Yes, they were upset whenever I mentioned the food trucks and the vending coming in.”
Berry named other food establishment owners in town whom he said are against the food vendors, including Eugenia Bryant, Tiger’s Ice Cream and Grill; Randi Joe White, Randi Joe’s Kitchen; Michael Baker, Aracoma Drug Co.; Josh Mullins, Giovanni’s; and Mina’s Mexican Grill.
Mayor Joel McNeely and councilwoman Robin Adams Mutters also noted that Tim Tomblin of Dairy Delight has also spoken against the food trucks.
Berry owns Berry Enterprises, LLC, which also operates other local businesses, including the Tudor’s Biscuit World at West Logan. A local preacher as well, Berry questioned the sanitary practices of mobile food vendors and said that all such practices are done correctly at his businesses.
“Chapmanville Tudor’s has a lot of money invested, OK?” Berry said. “It takes an enormous amount of money to be able to get this started, to be able to get it going, and to be able to run a business, and I buy more businesses and I go because I tell my employees all the time, ‘It’s not everywhere you can work for a preacher, where everything’s done right, everything’s done honest, and you’re treated fair.’ That’s why I buy more and more, so I can have more and more people the opportunity to work for the right people.”
Berry said he is representing his employees with his complaint. He said that if the food vendors continue to take money away from his business, it could result in employee position cuts. Berry also said that he is also acting as a representative for the other town businesses that are also upset by it.
“If I spend and give you the tax money, I expect you to stand up for me,” Berry said. “Don’t let the trailer vending come in here. Don’t let the food trucks come in here, because everybody’s upset about it.”
Using a large satellite map of Chapmanville, councilman Ben DesRocher said a property where food trucks often set up is not actually within city limits.
“I would love to go forth with annexation, which would allow us to help curb that idea of food trucks coming in,” DesRocher said. “As long as this isn’t in town, they can come set up here, or here, actually, or a couple other places, and it’s going to be perfectly fine.”
Town recorder Terilyn Wilson said the first 10 feet of that property is within town limits, and the food trucks were actually set up on that portion recently. Town attorney Rob Kuenzel said if that is the case, then they need to pay the town’s vendor fee, along with B&O tax.
Kuenzel said a minor boundary adjustment could be made to annex the entire property into the town, if the owner would wish to do so.