Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


LSHA: Something Different – Locally Sourced Mexican Food May Be Making an Appearance

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority (LSHA) there was a refreshing change from folks coming before governmental agencies looking for a handout, free money, favors, or looking to cement deals hatched in the backroom corridors of Columbia County. With food trucks established as a burgeoning gourmet business throughout America, Chef/Owner Santos Hernandez appeared before the LSHA Board to make his case to park his food truck in a couple of LSHA owned parking spaces.

Authority Manager Dale Williams introduced Mr. Hernandez, "Mexico Cocina has made a request to use properties owned by the Authority for the placement of a food truck. Any questions you may have we can ask him directly."

Santos Hernandez listens to the board discuss his proposal.

Mr. Hernandez introduced himself, "My name is Santos Hernandez. I've started a food truck business here in Lake City. I have been working in restaurants for a really long time. My food truck business is licensed and insured. Some of the employees (in the area) have requested for me to come here to this area to see if they could have tacos and burritos."

Mr. Hernandez continued, "I practice farm to table by sourcing locally. We use Swallowtail Farm... We would love to be part of this community and show that Lake City can produce really good food."

Chairman Brandon Beil asked, "Do you want to park there full time, or on certain days?"

Mr. Hernandez explained, "It would be early in the week and once a month to every other week...     I spent the last eight years trying to perfect Mexican recipes. I'm here to do my best and provide good food to the community."

Board member Janet Creel asked if Mr. Hernandez had a food truck.

Mr. Hernandez explained that his truck was really a food trailer and that it was a self-contained unit."

Mr. Hernandez said he thought next to the LSHA building (on Taylor Avenue) would be a good spot and out of the way.

Responding to a liability question by Ms. Creel, LSHA Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., opined, "You would not have any liability for food that he served. You would want to make sure he had some kind of indemnity insurance."

Mr. Hernandez said that he was completely insured and practiced safe food handling practices, adding, he keeps the trash on the truck and a can outside; takes it all with him; and polices the area before he leaves.

Bd. Chairman Brandon Beil

"Allow Him to Try"

Chairman Biel asked Manager Williams for a recommendation to which he responded, "I don't want to be a person that stops enterprise. I suggest ... if it were me, I would allow him to try it and we could do it on a temporary basis... I see these things everywhere now. I see food trucks as just being commonplace and I certainly like free enterprise."

Board member Jay Swisher asked if a certificate of insurance naming of the Authority would be sufficient."

Attorney Koberlein responded, "I think there are a lot of things that need to be considered before saying that, that would be the only item that would make this a sufficient... There are a lot of issues here."

Ms. Creel volunteered, "I'm in favor of it."

Chairman Beil said, "Let's try and get it on the next agenda with all the proper documentation so that we can approve it... Being a government agency, there is too much red tape. If we can get everything ironed out, we can put it on the next agenda for approval."

Board member Mark Thompson left everyone laughing when he volunteered, "Seeing we meet around dinner time you could always send some meals over."

The Board agreed that a 6 month trial would be fair.

After the meeting, retired pharmacist Sandra Buck-Camp told the Observer, "I am impressed that Mr. Hernandez wants to expand his business to include this area of Lake City and also that he said he has spent years perfecting his recipes."

Earlier today, Chairman Beil expressed his support of Mr. Hernandez's business proposal, "I think it's great. Owning your own business is the American Dream. When someone wants to work for himself, make money, and support the community it is a good day. I am 100% behind Mr. Hernandez's proposal to give this a try at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority."


Authority Manager Dale Williams has three plus decades of experience in county and municipal government. City Manager Joe Helfenberger, the new guy on the block, has a wealth of experience and is too new to have been corrupted by Columbia County's infamous good ole' boys.

Both managers should be able to pave the way so Mr. Hernandez can hear a decision at the next LSHA Board meeting in January.

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