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 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!

Trouble in Paradise

The City of Atlanta Police Department revokes the vending permit it just granted to the Yumbii truck to operate on the public right of way (typically at 5th and Spring in Tech Square), claiming that such permit was issued in error!

The owner and his supportive family are scrambling to find a comparable (highly visible) spot on private property and resume a business granted full approval by the Fulton County Health Department.

Unincorporated DeKalb County, meanwhile, prohibits vending entirely, and many locations (including the Emory campus and many large buildings) are tied to preexisting food service contracts and can’t align themselves with the demands of an enthusiastic public.

What is it going to take, Atlanta? Don’t you know that the street food movement is growing by leaps and bounds as seen on the Food Network’s new show the Great Food Truck Race.

Orleagian Snowball Truck Shuttered?

Reader Boyd Baker sent us a tip that the Orleagian Snowball truck at the corner of Ponce and Moreland may be closed. Here’s what he said:

I was at the Snowball truck at Ponce & Moreland this afternoon when a City official told them they had to close until they had a health certificate. They had a license but the poor kid running the thing knew nothing else. I thought I overheard the man say it’d be a $5k fine if they opened without a health cert. When I talked to the kid, all he could say was, “This truck has been open 3 years.”

Let us know if it’s open or not.

[Photo courtesy of their Flickr stream.]

Compatriots

Jennifer and John Maley, who live in Ansley Park and run the Atlanta food blog Food We’ve Eaten, linked us last week in a blog post on street food. John writes,

Personally, I think there’s something really appealing to being able to walk down the street and pick up a hot dog, or a burro pollo, and enjoy it al fresco. There’s none of the experiential overhead of a restaurant to deal with  (waiters, counters, decor, elevator music, etc.). It’s just about the food. Plus, when everyone is forced to improvise seating, you end up a little more connected to the people around you, even if you don’t necessarily talk to them.

We agree!