Food Trucks vs. Brick & Mortar: Restaurants Are Up in Arms

Photo: somethingstartedcrazy

By Dylan Rodgers |

Photo: somethingstartedcrazy

If you’ve been keeping up with your food news, restaurants and food trucks are tangled in a subtly desperate battle for rights and ‘proper’ regulation.  I use the ‘scare quotes’ because at this point in the argument, ‘proper’ seems somewhat relative.  Just to catch you up, here’s the low down:

             Food trucks have become major competition for restaurants as they have developed the ability to cook food in any place they can park.

               Restaurants are perturbed due to lost business, and feel that if they are so strictly regulated by the city that food trucks should be just as regulated.

             Both parties are now in a debate as to the conditions of these regulations that will more than likely change the face of the entire food truck business in a nationwide ripple-effect.

It seems to be a straw man fallacy to consider food trucks to be “stealing” a restaurant business.  First the restaurant would have to own the rights to those customers.  Secondly the fact that people are gravitating more toward quicker meals on-the-go seems, to me, an almost predictable shift of the food market in the 21st century.  Food trucks haven’t planted the seed of hustle and bustle in our culture.  No; they have simply catered to it—the same as fast food and later drive-through windows (something that also received much debate).

Restaurants do provide a much more intimate experience wrought with food that is generally more labored over and finely tuned than the frantically assembled piles sold at many mobile dining establishments.  Some restaurants also stage an area for romance, family get-togethers, and celebrations that would be entirely fun-deflating while standing at the curb sucking in vehicle fumes and sewer drift.

But just because food trucks are mobile innovations able to set up shop at any place with high foot traffic, it doesn’t trump the importance of the customer’s choice.  People chose boom-boxes and walkmans over record players because of the mobility they allowed.  But as we all know, records have continued to stay around while tape players have gone the way of the dodo.

I guess my analogy here is to point out that there will always be a market for restaurants.  They may have to share as new innovative ideas pop up, but they cannot be replaced.  I do agree that food truck regulation must consider the added pollutants from their mobile machines and also any sort of mistreatment of the used oils or other substances (some trucks have allegedly poured their oil down sewage drains).  Plus, many restaurants are now sending out fleets of trucks to grab back a chunk of the market the street-side customer rush.

The market is fluid and in constant flux; successful businesses let the market guide their pursuits rather than trying to guide the market.