Gourmet Food Trucks Band Together to Form Lobbying Group

For the past two years we’ve been hearing grumblings about the formation of a lobbying group headed up by the owners of the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, and this morning the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that it’s official!  According to the article, the association has 32 food truck members (22 of which are listed on their website) and their initial goal is to push for a speedier licensing process “and the right to park and vend at metered spots”.  Sounds good to us!  Anything that makes it easier for food trucks to park in Midtown is alright in our book, provided it doesn’t end up unfairly hurting old school food truck vendors (who are conspicuously absent from the association) or make it easier for the food truck business to be overrun by large fast food companies.

After all, part of the reason that food trucks are so unique and interesting compared to brick and mortar businesses is because the barriers to entry are high and kind of vague.  It’s also why most traditional entrepreneurs just looking to get rich have avoided opening food trucks (a notoriously low margin business), leaving street food mostly to people who have no other way to make a living or people who are incredibly passionate about the food they are serving.  You have to be passionate (and not care about getting rich) to put up with what street food vendors deal with on a daily basis for the amount of money they make.  Change the laws to make food trucks 100% legal and easy to open and operate and it won’t be long before they are co-opted by big corporate chains- just like regular brick and mortar real estate.

Then again, after years of seeing vendors and non-profit vendor advocacy groups (like the Street Vendor Project) get walked all over by much richer constituencies, it’ll be nice to have some money backed lobbyist firepower fighting for the good guys!  (Provided they do end up fighting for the good guys…)

The association also promises “to promote community-oriented vending behavior”, something that not all of the members have practiced in the past- including Rickshaw Dumpling themselves, who has instigated their fair share of turf wars (most notably by parking in Frites N Meats’ spot back in August.)  It seems like they’ve all worked it out though… Frites N Meats joined the association, as well as Schnitzel & Things (who has also had some early turf battles with a number of the trucks in the association.)   Not all the trucks believe that this new found camaraderie is genuine, though.  Sweetery NYC decided not to join the group, telling the WSJ the “fiercely competitive nature of the vendor world does not lend itself well to unity.”  He’s probably right, but let’s hope he’s wrong!


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