Are food trucks a threat to fixed-location restaurants? Lumpia World, which has set up at Rite Aid south of The Junction on Saturdays and Mondays for the past month or so, says its permission to be there just got pulled – after what its co-owner says was a confrontation on Saturday with someone making that argument. We just talked with co-owner Derrick – but first, here’s the backstory: Today, via their Facebook page, they announced they won’t be there tonight, claiming that an “unidentified man” approached the truck on Saturday, saying something about health rules, and “was/is upset about the rise in mobile food vendors & the fact that our overhead/taxes are not what his is based on him having a physical location.” As a result, Lumpia World said in its second FB post, the man caused “a very large scene at our trailer as well as in Rite Aid. With this said, Rite Aid has asked us to halt our operations temporarily until they hear back from their legal team.” And in a third and final FB post:
… We hope this matter will be resolved in a quick manner so we can get back to doing what we are passionate about & love in West Seattle. It is not our mission or goal to take business away from any one, we just want to bring & make available our cuisine that we are so passionate about.
We just talked by phone with Lumpia World’s co-owner Derrick, who confirms that Rite Aid has withdrawn their permission for Lumpia World TFN (he says at least one other area business with a sizable lot has invited him to contact them, though). He reiterates that the man did not identify himself or his restaurant but demanded to see food handler cards and claimed one was invalid because it’s from a different county (Derrick says that’s not true – we’re researching the rules) and then became irate, going on about taxes and overhead that he has to pay compared to a mobile operation, after which, Derrick says, the man went into the store and complained there. He’s waiting for final word from Rite Aid; in the meantime, LW tried White Center last weekend, by Big Al Brewing, and Derrick says they’ll return there 5-8 pm Friday.
Meantime, we have a message out to Rite-Aid media relations to ask about the reported permission withdrawal. But the one person we don’t have a message out to, because we have no idea who he is, is the “unidentified” person who complained – we issue an open call, if that’s you, we’d love to publish your side of the story too – or that of ANY local restaurateur who feels that street-food trucks are hurting their business. It would be an important viewpoint to hear.