The food truck vs. restaurants feud is very similar to the newspaper vs. internet news feud. It's pretty clear who winning the latter battle since you are reading this article on your browser and not in a black and white paper in front of you.
It's understandable that established restaurants are afraid of food trucks. Not everyone has the tech savvy-ness and entrepeneurial spirit (seeing the similarities?) that is required to take on a food truck venture. They are a faster more accessible manner (more similarities) of getting food.
Yet, the key word in the phrase food truck is "food." That's all it provides. Food. Will there be a day where people are proposing at fancy food truck stops? Hosting business soirees at their favorite truck? I don't think so.
So, instead of Chicago passing a ridiculously strict food truck ordinance that, while allowing food trucks to finally to cook on board, also requires the trucks to install GPS to ensure that the other ordinance restriction that they park 200 feet away from a food establishment is met, the city should be more lenient with the food truck trend. The original distance between truck and restaurants was 50 feet. Why did that change? Even though the trucks are now allowed to operate during more hours, which is great. During peak hours, such as lunch time, they are hindered by food truck zones that can only be occupied by two food trucks.
If it serves to soothe the troubled and worried minds of restaurant owners, the owner of one of my favorite food trucks, the MeatyBalls Truck, actually stopped selling his wares out of the back of a truck and now only has a brick and mortar restaurant, El. Another one of my favorite trucks, 5411 Empanadas, now has a store in addition to the truck selling its food stuffs, which is great because some people, like myself, can't run around Chicago chasing it down when we crave an empanada. The Southern Mac and Cheese Truck also created a store in addition to its van.
If the food truck is successful at selling quality food, it will most likely turn into a restaurant. Will the restaurant owners ask them to shut down their restaurant since it was inspired by a food truck? No. Food trucks aren't asking the restaurant owners to make their food mobile to be on equal footing.
Food trucks have the same likelihood of failure as any restaurant, and many in Chicago have failed (see below list). A quality restaurant will never stand up to a quality food truck. Just as a popular blog will never be equal to an established media source like Thomson Reuters or the New York Times. So, Chicago, let the food experiment begin already.
List of Trucks That No Longer Kept on Trucking
- Homage Street Food
- Sweet Miss Giving’s Food Truck
- Mama Green’s Goodies
- The Sugar Whip
- Hot Bunz
- Sweet Spot Macaroons
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