The More Food Trucks the Merrier

by Taryn Higgins |

Northeast Ohio loves food trucks and food trucks love Northeast Ohio. Although Northeast Ohio is the least likely region to eat out on a regular basis (according to a recent survey by livingsocial), food trucks are growing faster in popularity here than in any other region in the country. The concept of affordable gourmet food on the move is perfect for Northeast Ohio, where the population is sprawled. Food trucks can go to concentrations of people, also filling the void of food desserts in some areas. Gourmet food on the move also falls in line with the Midwestern, laid back attitude Northeast Ohioans exude.

Food trucks have put Northeast Ohio on the map through the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network. Chris Hodgson’s Hodge Podge has competed valiantly so far in the competition and we find out Sunday which truck wins it all.  My first food truck experience was from Hodge Podge while they were stationed at the Burning River Fest in July.  I had a luxurious Gouda burger that melted in my mouth. After such a delectable experience I am a true devotee. The food truck movement is an exciting phenomena for Cleveland.

Cleveland  began allowing food trucks in the city with legislation passed by City Council in April 2011. Since then more trucks have populated the streets at lunch time during the week, and at festivals and events around town on the weekends. Food trucks don’t just offer the same food cart fare expected from a street corner operation. Food trucks offer Northeast Ohioans their favorite comfort food, in addition to a wide spectrum of other culinary experiences. With 70 licensed trucks, everyone is bound to find something they enjoy.

Despite the growing popularity, not all Northeast Ohio cities want food trucks on their streets. Most argue that food trucks take away business from other restaurants that are not so mobile.  The City of Akron prohibits food trucks on public property and according to Lisa Abrahm’s article from the Akron Beacon Journal, Akron has no intention of allowing trucks any time soon. To my knowledge there is no body of research to prove food trucks take away business, in fact I think the trucks draw people out of their offices. However, cities that have a struggling restaurant business want to protect what they’ve worked hard to build or retain. Akron is not alone in its struggle to manage the prospect of food trucks and maintain bricks and mortar restaurants. Cleveland has alleviated this problem by designating certain zones for food trucks. Perhaps Akron could adopt this method and accommodate both types of culinary experiences. My moto is the more the merrier! For food trucks anyway.