Path to progress: public support, B & M no-shows help food trucks
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 30, 2011 @ 8:23am
In sheer substance, the Common Council’s public gathering at City Hall Thursday morning produced little. A committee, with representatives from both the food trucks and the established restaurants, will convene within the next 30 days to hammer out regulations that all parties will abide by, and a new proposal will be presented for approval to the Common Council during November. Baby steps of progress, you could say. (For a full detailed recap, read this post by Aaron Besecker of the Buffalo News.)
The peak of the opening discussions was when Lloyd Taco Truck co-owner Peter Cimino noted that over 4,000 people signed the food truck petition...in four days. Well done, Buffalo.
It was the public session of the forum that caught my attention, as readers of Buffalo.com are already quite familiar with Lloyd Taco Truck, the Roaming Buffalo, the Whole Hog and the other two food trucks, Rolling Joe Cafe and RnR BBQ, to a lesser extent.
Proponents of mobile food stepped to the microphone, extolling the value of food trucks and encouraging the council to act favorably. From musician and Visit Buffalo Niagara video personality Nelson Starr to Buffalo Spree writer and Feed Your Soul founder Christa Glennie Seychew to Sarah Schneider, proprietor of Merge Restaurant, positivity reigned, illuminating the rapid impact that mobile food vendors have had on the City of Buffalo.
Many voices urged the Common Council to come to a quick conclusion—Seychew in particular encouraged them not to “drag their feet.” Two prospective food truck owners—one unemployed school teacher with a master’s degree and a passion for cooking—struck a sentimental chord with the gathering of 70+ as well. More food trucks equal more jobs and more full stomachs, but without regulations, these would-be entrepreneurs have to wait nervously.
Few brick and mortar representatives showed up, and those who did were primarily positive in regard to creating workable regulations. Merge’s Schneider, Gramma Mora’s Charlie Giovino and an open letter from Coffee Culture welcomed food trucks near their restaurants, citing increased pedestrian traffic and a working relationship as positive factors. Zetti’s John Fusco, the lone voice of dissent, criticized the fact that food trucks don’t have bathrooms. It is unclear if anyone took him seriously. Carl Paladino was nowhere in sight.
Still, the following issues remain, and it’s possible that roadblocks still lie ahead:
— What distance should the food trucks be from an open brick and mortar?
— How will this distance be enforced, and who has the authority to measure it?
— Should the regulations on food trucks be more lax during the winter months? (A sound point by WNY Media’s Alan Bedenko).
— Should there be a cap on the number of food trucks that can roam the streets of Buffalo?
— Should there be a citizen subcommittee to join with the food trucks & bricks and mortars in discussion?
It was a day of promise for food trucks, but the momentum needs to continue.
Here’s video of Cimino’s stirring speech: