The Great Food Truck Debate

There has been a lot of debate lately in my city about whether or not food trucks should be allowed. Currently, they are allowed on private property at a fixed location, but not allowed to park on the streets. Now, personally, I don’t see a problem with this plan going forward. Lots of other cities have food trucks and they don’t have any problems with them. The major bone of contention here is that the restaurants downtown believe that having these food trucks converge on the downtown area will significantly impact their businesses and impede the flow of foot traffic in the core.

I can kind of see where they might get this idea and I could see some of their sales declining a little bit, but I look at it this way: not everyone who is going to buy from a food truck will go and sit down at a restaurant for lunch. Food trucks are quick, fast food that doesn’t require sitting and waiting for the waitress to hurry up and take your order so you can actually get back to work on time. I have run into this problem several times in restaurants in the downtown core. They get a little busy then all of a sudden you need to be back at work in fifteen minutes and you still haven’t gotten the food you ordered almost thirty minutes ago. Food trucks are the “quick and dirty” option to grab food on the go. While there will be cross-over customers, I think most of the customers are different types of people. For someone who only has half an hour to grab lunch, they don’t have time to wait in a restaurant so they’re not going to eat there. However, someone who’s schedule might be a little more flexible can take the time to sit down to a relaxing meal.

There was a recent article posted online for the local news site and they talked to someone in the business in Portland, Oregon, which is apparently the food truck capital of the world. That person stated that they haven’t found a single issue with food trucks and declining business in nearby restaurants. He actually commented that food trucks tend to bring MORE people downtown and boost business (he mentioned that even Subway was still busy). When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. These food trucks usually start off as a novelty and everyone wants to try them, but as time goes on, that can change, but those people who might have never ventured downtown would get the chance to discover other places. I recently started working downtown and after getting a chance to actually look around and check things out, there are a bunch of places I would either shop or eat at that I didn’t think about or know about before. Just as an example, this past Christmas, I purchased a gift at a specialty store downtown that I had heard of but never bothered to check out because it was in the downtown area. Since working downtown, that’s changed and I’ve kind of had my eyes opened to all the neat places. I really think having food trucks downtown would do that for some people.

As of right now, they are proposing a pilot project for food trucks in my city. There’s still a lot of debate about where they can be allowed to operate and what other types of regulations should be in place. It bothers me that the downtown restaurants are pushing their agenda to not allow food trucks downtown. It’s my personal opinion that they really should have no say in the matter. If someone where to open a restaurant up right next to their establishment, they would have no say in that, so why should they have any say in where food trucks should be allowed to operate?

 

Jennifer Lewis

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