Free the Food Trucks!

In the Boston Globe, Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University and director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, asks himself, “Why do food trucks matter?” and answers his own question:

“Cities work economic magic and entertain their citizens by connecting smart people, helping them to learn from one another and to innovate….Food trucks are a natural part of the innovative culinary process…Preserving the monopoly power of local eateries is a terrible reason to restrict food trucks.”

Subsitute the word “Atlanta” for the word “Boston, and you have it in a nutshell:

“As in many other areas, a one-stop permitting process that aims at providing speedy approval seems like a step forward. While I admire the Food Truck Challenge in City Hall Plaza to bring food trucks to scale, we should give up on micro-managing the location of every food truck. Instead, public spaces should be rented to food trucks, so the space will go to the truck that values it most. Food trucks can improve Boston’s streets and Boston’s palates ­ they just need to be free to do so.”

(photo of Mayor Thomas Menino from the Boston Globe)

A Food Soiree

Please come out tonight in support of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s new extended hours (till 8 p.m.) on Thursdays. Most of the restaurants will be open for business, including the newest and definitely fabulous Bell Street Burritos, which started as a delivery business and a way for a young professor of theology to feed his family. If you are still pining for Tortillas on Ponce, Matt’s burritos are exact replicas of the original, sauce and all.

Also…the first ever evening Urban Picnic at the market sponsored by the Atlanta Street Food Coalition will start promptly at 5 p.m. and many of your favorite food trucks will be on the curb!

Come out to support the market so it can keep moving in the right direction….

A Big Day for Street Food

Yesterday, Councilman Kwanza Hall of District 2 invited the Atlanta Street Food Coalition to City Hall to spark an interest with the other members on the City Council and honor pioneers such as the Yumbii truck, the King of Pops, and other attendees.

Proclamations were read, popsicles were shared, and sincere thanks went to the Councilman, who briefly alluded to the current statute of street food (“not quite legal at the moment”) and has vowed to introduce new legislation to help vendors over the hurdles.

Look at all the happy faces of the honorees!

Practical Tips

How do you pick a good employee to work in your food truck?

The owner of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in Manhattan recently told Nation’s Restaurant News that not only do his employees have to be “able to steam fresh dumplings, prep all the fresh sides like the green salads and sesame noodle salad, and be able to drive in New York City,” but they also must know how to “handle hot weather days, cold weather days and being harassed by other vendors. Basically, they set up the entire store in the morning and tear it down at night. They also have to be good at not getting tickets. They have to feel very confident in troubleshooting when the truck goes down because so many things can go wrong that we don’t have checklists like we do in the restaurant. Instead, we just tell them to leave the truck how they’d like to pick it up.”

How do you select a lucrative location?

In a three-part article entitled “Behind the scenes with an L.A. Food Truck,” posted on Serious Eats, the owner of the Manila Machine reveals that it is sometimes necessary to send a “staging car” to hold a good spot and that revealing your secrets on Twitter may put you at a disadvantage. “Are there other restaurants in the area? Can you assume that the people in this area will want try your food for the first time? Are there any cops around that may shoo you away even though you are following the letter of the law? Are there other food trucks in the area that may not welcome your presence?” vendors must ask themselves.

Not Cool!

Last week in New York city, ice cream trucks got into a brawl over territorial rights to a few feet on the street.

A video of the clash between a Mister Softee truck and a competitor with a similar name was linked on the blog The Consumerist, proving that there is nothing soft about peddlers of icy treats!

Ugly words were exchanged, followed by punches and a call for the police. The incident took place at the corner of Broadway and W. 60th St., near Lincoln Center. Content may not be suitable for tender ears…