Ithaca, N.Y. — The Hot Truck, an icon of Cornell’s West Campus, is asking the city to let it set up shop in Ithaca’s Collegetown instead.

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The truck is now located on Stewart Avenue just south of its intersection with University Ave. It was founded in 1960 by Bob Petrillose and is now run by the ShortStop Deli.

This week, the City of Ithaca’s Board of Public Works will take up the truck’s proposal to move to the intersection of Eddy Street and Dryden Road in Collegetown.

Documents submitted to the city say that the Hot Truck will go out of business if it is not allowed to make the move.

“The Stewart Avenue location no longer works for the Hot Truck. To keep the 50-plus-year Hot Truck tradition going will require us to replace the truck in the next few years. Operating on Stewart Avenue does not even begin to generate enough business to finance a new food truck,” wrote Albert Smith, founder of ShortStop, in a letter to the DPW enclosed in this week’s agenda.

“We believe the Eddy Street location would allow the Hot Truck to continue to serve the Greater Ithaca and Cornell Comunity for many years to come.”

Photo courtesy of Ithacating

The idea to move the Hot Truck — which has been featured and acclaimed in national publications — first surfaced a few years ago.

City staff have come to the consensus that the truck can’t both move from its West Campus location and retain its current permit, according to documents filed with the DPW.

“The opinion expressed was that if you want to move the truck to another of the locations available and participate in the Food Truck program, you would need to do so under all of the requirements of the current permitting system,” stated Mark Darling in an email in January 2015.

According to Brian Crandall of Ithacating, Petrillose called it the “Hot Truck” to differentiate it from “The Cold Truck”, a name that Louie’s Lunch used for its West Campus location from 1962-1981.

In city records, Mayor Svante Myrick says that he’s supportive of moving the Hot Truck to Collegetown but that the complexities of the deal would be best discussed with the Board of Public Works.

The DPW meeting to discuss the future of the Hot Truck will be held tonight in City Hall.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.