Hamid Chaudhry had a plan that defied all categories.
In 2019 he bought a former Sheetz at 6000 Perkiomen Ave. in the town of Exeter along with several adjacent plots of land. In April, he announced plans to build a food truck parking lot and a communal kitchen on the site.
He consulted with food truck owners and the Exeter Borough Zoning Board and Planning Commission. His plan attracted a lot of attention, but on June 22, Chaudhry posted an update on his Facebook post.
“I’m sorry to tell my friends and well-wishers in Berks County that my food truck parking idea didn’t work out for at least the next few years,” he wrote. “I didn’t have the motivation to meet the requirements of Exeter Township in these uncertain economic times to open a food truck fleet… I just didn’t have the strength to overcome obstacles to build a food truck fleet. [sic] at this point in my life, maybe I’m not hungry enough.”
The fact that there was no such thing as a “food truck park” in the Exeter Borough Zoning Ordinance proved to be a challenge for Chaudhry. Having to appear before the Planning Commission and the Zoning Commission created a high cost and burden for him.
For Chaudhry, the food truck fleet was a simple retail project. In the village it was more difficult. The city administration is also concerned about the increase in traffic in the area.
“The Zoning Hearing Board may even require the submission and approval of a land development plan,” Exeter Township Zoning Officer Will Brugger wrote in a May 11 letter to Chaudhry, “as a condition if approved for a “food truck fleet.” You will also have to look for a zoning option to install a 300 sq. feet.”
When we contacted by phone, Brugger had no further comments.
Chaudhry envisioned the food truck fleet as a quick project before his real dream – an on-site farmers’ market – could be realised.
The food truck project would have cost $500,000, including signage, parking repairs, and provision of a commercial kitchen. On top of that, the city authorities only gave him a permit for six months.
“The price was not worth it,” Chaudhry said. “You don’t spend half a million dollars to open within six months. So that made it impossible.”
He said he had nothing against the village, but was waiting for the current economic “uncertainty” to go away.
“I will wait for the right project to come along,” he said, “because I think the market will go down at that point. I think the market is too volatile, with inflation and all. I would rather sit on the sidelines and wait for the situation to stabilize and look for an opportunity when it presents itself.”
For now, Chaudhry is leasing the property to a friend of his friend Taran Virk from Allentown, who plans to turn it into a convenience store and gas station called the Birdsboro Mart.
“We’re targeting the crowd that’s on 422 as well as Birdsboro residents,” Macungie’s manager Vikram “Vic” Fnu said.
Fnu has previously worked in Birdsboro and looks forward to reconnecting with this community. Fnu plans to add a communal kitchen to the space, as Chaudhry planned.
“Because we have so many parking lots,” he said, “if anyone wants to join the food trucks, we’ll be happy to have them.”