In Our October issue, Editor Michael Sanson raised the issue of whether gourmet food trucks have an “unfair advantage” when they locate close to restaurants. In most cases, food trucks did not receive a warm response from the brick-and-mortar folks.
I have to side with the established restaurants' position, and not because I own a restaurant (I do). The cost of operating an established restaurant often handcuff's one's ability to go outside the box due to décor and tabletop package expense, high-end equipment in the kitchen that must be paid down and, in my case, our reputation as a classic historic inn which has a preassumed menu style that pays the bills. The guerrilla trucks can much more easily think out of the box, since they are often serving out of a cardboard box. If today's idea fails, move the truck to another street and try something else tomorrow. Try that with bricks and mortar. On a somewhat related note, I have a friend in New York City who had an established flower shop in midtown and was eviscerated by street-side vendors who paid no rent, taxes etc. Now my friend has lost everything.
General Warren Inne
As someone who lived on the West side of L.A. and has spent months on construction sites, I have seen everything from a roll-up hotdog vendor to a sushi on-the-go truck. I applaud the street vendors as much as a fine dining chef. Everyone is striving for the same result: feed guests and make a living doing so. We are all restaurateurs. The only area we brick-and-mortar operators have to be concerned with is regulation. The various governing bodies have a tough task at hand with these moving targets. However, those who do it right are no different than the rest of us. The same goes for those who are not living up to (health) standards. We should all be concerned, no matter if our restaurant is on wheels or footers, that we are serving food following proper health standards and conditions.
Joe Micatrotto Jr.
President & C.E.O.
Micatrotto Restaurant Group
Las Vegas, NV
When I attented Temple University in the late '70s there were many food trucks on campus for the students to choose from. When I worked on a construction project in Newcastle we had a food truck stop each day at the site. In both cases, neither competed [directly] with brick and mortar restaurants. Just about anyone can take a truck and do a great job with it, and they can keep their prices low [and appeal to customers]. Case in point: In my town this year a hot dog truck was cited for not locating in an area that wasn't approved for the truck. The townspeople were up in arms: How dare you touch our two hot dog, chips and a soft drink special for $3.99?
The truck had to move as the town upheld the zoning. I know that the three restaurants located less than an eighth of a mile away were happy. I think it's grossly unfair to allow trucks in close proximity to established businesses trying to make it in this economy. You can't compete with a truck when it comes to pricing and service. The food is what sets the price in the sit-down restaurant and if there is nowhere to sit down, no restroom, no rent, maybe a few other [costs] that conventional restaurants have, it unfairly skews the marketplace. It's refreshing to see that a local politician000 understands that the trucks are unfair to established businesses.
International House of Pancakes
Toms River and Manahawkin, NJ