WINCHESTER BAY — An increasingly popular food vendor on U.S. Highway 101 will only be here until October. It has no restrooms, and any “gray water,” usually dishwater, is picked up by a weekly service.
Now, JT’s BBQ, next to the highway in Winchester Bay, is being directed to connect to sewer service with the Winchester Bay Sanitary District.
“They’ve contacted me a few times,” business owner John Teller said last week as he worked at his stand.
It is Teller’s first year of bringing his mobile business to town. He spends some of the year in Arizona, but was born and raised in Oregon, mainly Roseburg and Yoncalla.
The Teller family actually ran a produce stand at the same Winchester Bay location in the early ’90s.
The sanitary district board meets at 6 p.m. tonight. Among the agenda items is “consideration of Ordinance 1-2013 Mobile Vendors.”
Teller said he hasn’t heard a reason for requiring him to hook up to the system, but did speculate it wasn’t for public safety concerns.
“They built that new plant and now there’s a huge fee,” he said. “I don’t know what the reason is.
“They came in and said, ‘We want you to be hooked up. We want you to spend the $4,000,’ or whatever it is.”
Teller also predicted he’d have to pay for an inspector to visit the site and “estimate what I’m going to be using.”
Teller and other employees use the restroom facilities across U.S. Highway 101 in Winchester Bay, so he said there’s no need for one at his business. There is also no sit-down seating for customers.
The threat of paying the sanitary district fee may be enough to drive the barbecue pitstop out of town.
“I’ll leave,” he said. “I’ll find another spot.”
That could be a blow to the community, Teller said.
“I’m getting more and more repeat customers. I’ve got people stopping here who wouldn’t even stop in this town. I have people that will stop just for pictures and they end up walking out with food.”
When travelers stop, Teller said he directs them to other places in the area.
“I promote other businesses,” he said. “That’s a daily occurrence. I have no problem networking at all.”
Teller said he could, if he wanted, have seating for eight people at the site, which meets state permitting and health specifications.
Even if he added seating, the sanitary district said he couldn’t have portable restrooms for customers.
“So, in order to do a bathroom here, I’d have to build it,” Teller said. “That’s my only option.”