Small Restaurants Take a Hit From Food Trucks

By ADAM PROBOLSKY | OCRegister.com

Talk to Anna Ekizian and she will tell you that food trucks are putting her business – Gyro King – in a very tough position.

Anna and her husband George own the Greek and Mediterranean restaurant located in the small food court on Jamboree and Dupont.

In the same commercial center, Jamboree Promenade, the Subway manager says they definitely notice a drop in business on Wednesdays when food trucks park across the street in a vacant parking lot.

Food trucks provide variety and a unique eating experience.

But traditional food businesses that have fixed costs, like property leases, choose where to locate not only based on the potential revenue generated by the patronage of surrounding businesses and homes, but also based on an assessment of the competition.

In the case of Gyro King, they pull a lot of Allergan employees who walk diagonally across Teller to get to the food court, which is shared by a Flame Broiler and Jamboree Kitchen that serves Vietnamese food.

However, on days when food trucks park in the lot across the street, Anna and George tell me their business is off by more than 30 percent.

Any small business owner who sees such a dramatic drop in business can understand how devastating this could be. You still have to pay your employees and the utility bills regardless of whether you make money that day. Food trucks can pick up and find a new location for any day of the week. A restaurant cannot. Some might say that food trucks use unfair tactics to complete.

Several months ago I went in to say hi to George, who I have known since Gyro King was located in a large Newport Beach food court that has long been replaced by an extended-stay hotel on Von Karman. George frantically ushered me into his car and drove me to the parking lot where the food trucks set up shop each week. They weren’t there that day, but he painted the picture of how they are making his small business struggle.

Not every food business is seriously impacted by food trucks parking nearby. The guy at Cherry On Top natural frozen yogurt (also in Jamboree Promenade) didn’t even know what day they showed up. But he added that his business tends to attract more of an evening crowd, well after the trucks have moved on to another location.

Irvine has no ordinances on the books that regulate where food trucks set up shop. And since the Teller location where they park is private property, there is little anyone can do to stop them. If my visit to the food truck corral a couple of weeks ago is any indication, the patrons are very glad to have them there.

Freelance columnist Adam Probolsky is a Turtle Rock resident and CEO of Probolsky Research LLC, which specializes in opinion research for government, corporate and political clients. He may be reached at adamprobolsky@gmail.com

http://www.ocregister.com/news/food-290438-trucks-business.html