Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider
Three years ago, the food truck movement was just gaining momentum. First popularised in Los Angeles, the mobile eateries soon sprung up on the other coast, clogging New York’s crowded sidewalks with on-the-go dishes that elevated humdrum street cart fare to a new level of sophistication and variety. Lower overhead and startup costs made food trucks an even more attractive alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.
But the food truck’s heyday could be coming to an abrupt end.
According to Lisa Fickenscher of Crain’s New York Business (via Zagat), revenue is down 70% among members belonging to New York City’s Food Truck Association after police began enforcing a parking rule that bans trucks from metered parking spaces. The city regulation has also forced at least three truck operators out of business.
The obscure parking rule has been on the books for decades, but earlier this year, a judge ruled that the regulation that bars vending from metered parking spaces applied to food trucks. Given that almost all parking on midtown Manhattan streets is metered these days, the ruling saw trucks lose their most lucrative spots, where they had built up a following of loyal customers practically overnight.
Food trucks notoriously compete with each other to carve out regular parking spots along prime sidewalk real estate. Although truck owners use Twitter and Facebook to alert followers of location changes, the restriction will undoubtedly make good parking spaces harder to find.
Meanwhile, The Food Truck Association has hired a lobbying firm to appeal to City Hall over the burdensome regulations. The organisation has also suggested some of their own ideas to resolve curbside issues such as paying more for metered spots and creating special spaces or lots where only food trucks can park.
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