With AB1678, the bill introduced in the California assembly that would make it almost impossible for Food Trucks to park anywhere downtown in the state due to ban-miles around schools, even harsher restrictions already in place in San Francisco, and other states and cities evaluating similar measures or making food truck operations prohibitively hard to start – what is happening?
Are we in a hype-spiral that has blown something originally very small and benign into a force that endangers our children? I don’t think so.
Food trucks are definitely surfing a hype, I am not sure they are a hype in and by itself. The hype these mobile food service operations are attached to is bigger: the, as I call it, New American Quest For Food.
Traditionally, restaurants have never been one to kill hypes. We all profit and benefit from this quest, we all cater to it through menu management, marketing, and other strategies. Many restaurants also started their own food trucks, getting into the business with an advantage few independent operators have – a full kitchen, a developed menu that can be adapted, and existing financial, social, and technical resources (and this starts with a place to park at night).
The drivers behind the anti-Food Truck movements are partially ill-informed politicians who are seeking quick solutions and scapegoats and find them in the weakest link in the food service industry (a win is a win, no matter how weak the opponent, something PETA and others have been doing for decades), and the owners and operators of fast food chains and drive through eateries.
To them, the newcomers are a threat in the area of fast service while providing individualized meals instead of mass produced fare. Add into this that the same companies who supply fast food also supply school lunch ready-mades and you will understand why those companies are so hell-bent on making sure the choices for, especially, young diners are between McChickenKing and the school cafeteria.
Walk-in and sit-down dining is often prohibitive enough to school children, students, and even businesspeople, that the fast food and in-house cafeterias do not have to fight them as hard. Put a mobile truck that can be parked in an office space parking lot or near a bus stop into the equation and those providers will lose money.
Food trucks aren’t new. Their prevalence and quality is, relatively, and that scares the old, packaged food, guard.
Update: on G+ Rich Thomas remarks:
I am not sure you have it right here. Listening to the debate about food trucks in the Bay Area, you hear a lot of complaints from sit down restaurants, not just fast service restaurants. You hear these restauranteurs talk about the advantage food trucks have by not needing to pay rent or property tax. They also talk about food trucks being able to move during the slow times. I think you are not giving a full reading of who is supporting AB1678
Further discussion about that part there.