(Don’t Sing Those) Food Truck Blues

Kim Severson’s Should Cities Drive Food Trucks Off the Streets?, in today’s Sunday Review, takes until the seventh paragraph to give even a single reason why the answer might be “yes.” And that reason?

But many restaurateurs are sick of seeing competition literally drive up outside their windows.

“It’s ignorant of people in the community to think that buying from food trucks instead of from local restaurants doesn’t hurt the community,” said Melissa Murphy , who runs two Sweet Melissa Patisseries in Brooklyn. “There’s just not enough to go around right now.”

I am not a libertarian, but sometimes it is useful to channel one. Food trucks sometimes hurt restaurants, to be sure, but shutting down food trucks to protect restaurants hurts food trucks — and eaters. Competition is a feature, not a bug. Food trucks are convenient, cheap, and deliciously varied.

When I eat at one, it’s because it’s offering me something that no nearby restaurant is. In college, I couldn’t have made it to my algorithms class and still had lunch if it hadn’t been for the Chinese Food Truck. In law school, the burrito cart frequently had a line stretching halfway down the block. And today, I sometimes take field trips to other parts of the city to visit particularly renowned food trucks.

As my breakfast partner says, “The kind of restaurant that finds itself unable to compete with a truck should consider shutting down and opening a truck instead.”

In my town restaurants pay 10 thou a year in rates, collect a lot of GST Taxes , have to meet a lot of health and safety standards and so on- I can understand fixed restaurants being a bit toey about being undercut by operators that escape those publicly mandated mandated costs by being mobile.

Food trucks have to meet health and safety standards, too.

Do food trucks ( in America) pay council/local government rates? Do they go through all the processes (and costs) of getting development approval for the use of ‘a’ site?