Cleveland: Don’t Allow Food Trucks to Feed Off of Long-Established, Brick & Mortar Restaurants

Cleveland's beloved "DIM & DEN SUM" Food Truck

By Other Voices |

Cleveland's beloved "DIM & DEN SUM" Food Truck

I would like to bring attention to the licensing of food trucks and the negative effect they have on legitimate rent-paying tenants. I was affected by the incident with Dim and Den Sum catering on St. Patrick’s Day (“Food truck owner says business at risk,” Sunday). This caterer parked his truck, the wrong way, on a one-way street so as to block the view of the caf and restaurant located on West Second Street and Daniel’s Way. When asked who gave him permission to sell food and block the street, owner Chris Hodgson stated that he had permits for all wards in the city. I informed him that he did not have a permit for the business district. He arrogantly said, “Here, talk to the councilman. I have him on speed dial.” When no councilman could be produced, a Cleveland policeman asked what the problem was and immediately contacted the licensing division at City Hall and was told that I was correct and Hodgson was asked to close down. He closed down but refused to move his truck until all business was lost at the restaurants located at 75 Public Square.

One, the restaurants are having a hard time just paying their rent and utilities, and when they get a special event like St. Patrick’s Day, they buy extra food and drinks and employ extra people, and then along comes a Trojan horse that steals all your business, yet he does not have to provide security guards, bathrooms, electricity, shelter or trash cans like my restaurants do or any other fixed restaurant in the area.

Two, I strongly suggest that City Council not approve these mobile services to be allowed anywhere where someone has a fixed operation. As Hodgson has stated, if he cannot get legislation passed so he can service “highly populated lunch crowds,” he will be out of business, and he’s only been in business a short while. What about Santa Fe Caf and Prime 75 and John Q’s?

Hodgson says he’s looking to operate from midnight to 7 a.m. as bars close so he can “draw business from the late-night crawlers.” The city on the other hand and all the bars in the Warehouse District, when people leave, are asked to make sure the people are dispersed and go home. Is the city of Cleveland going to pay for police to stick around while he caters to people? What restrooms are they going to use? Where are they going to throw their trash? Like on St. Patrick’s Day, they filled my trash cans, came into my building and used my restrooms, and then left.

I’m not against new businesses, but when Hodgson opens his new place and I buy a food truck and I park in front of his building and take his business, he won’t be in business long either. Catering trucks have a place: special events, circuses, factories, carnivals, etc. I’m sure if they parked in front of the new restaurants on East Fourth Street or in front of Johnny’s Downtown, nothing would be left of the truck to sell from. I think council would not be representing its constituents who pay taxes, etc. if it were to allow these trucks to park in front of any established, brick-and-mortar restaurant. Why pay rent? Why pay for utilities? Why pay real estate taxes?