City Council debates changes to sidewalk vending


The City Council Chambers were full on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 13, as citizens came out to hear the council debate possible changes to codes for street vendors in Ames.

The council and representatives of the city staff discussed almost every aspect of street vendors, ranging from definitions of carts versus sidewalk cafes, hours for street vending and what can be sold.

Representatives from the Campustown Action Association and the Mainstreet Cultural District were present, as well as owners and employees of current street vendors.

The first change made to the code clarified locations where carts are allowed, specifying Campustown and the Main Street Cultural District. This change did not affect any vendors currently in operation.

Also discussed was what will be allowed to be sold at stands. The council voted to make no changes to what sales are allowed, leaving the wording as “food, beverage or other merchandise.” Council member Jeremy Davis pushed for this option and said it “avoided a lot of what-if games.”

Another important point of discussion was the possibility of requiring stands to close at 3 a.m., which was put forth by the Ames Police Department. Matthew Goodman, city council member and owner of the Super Dog Station and Smiles and Gyros in Campustown, spoke out.

Goodman clarified that cutting hours in this manner could seriously hinder business. On busy weekends such as Veishea, Homecoming and the Iowa v. Iowa State game, lines can form past 3 a.m., and no one wants to cut off students and possible business.

Davis also spoke to this issue, using a first-person point of view as a previous ISU student and vendor customer. Davis reminded the council that cutting off students, some possibly intoxicated, could cause unintended issues for the police department.

After a lot of back-and-forth between council members, a representative of Campustown, stand owners and Police Chief Chuck Cychosz, the council voted to leave that area of the code as it is and not make additional hour requirements.

Also discussed in terms of Ames street vendors was the placement of stands and how their placement would be decided, allowance of alcoholic beverages at sidewalk cafes, and the use of electronic devices by sidewalk vendors.

The meeting then moved on to a discussion of a renewal of a liquor license for Cafe Mood. Commander Geoff Huff from the Ames Police Department as well as a co-owner of Cafe Mood debated prior offenses from the bar, including a relaxed stance on checking identification and noise complaints.

Cafe Mood asked for a 12-month renewal of their license, and the City Council decided on granting them a 6-month renewal. Mayor Anne Campbell clarified that the council will be happy to grant a longer renewal if Cafe Mood shows a spotless record after these six months.