Saturday, September 8, 2012

Are Greensboro's Downtown Food Trucks Destined To Fail?

In looking at the pilot program for Greensboro's downtown food trucks I cannot help but wonder if the program has been designed so that Greensboro food trucks are destined to fail. For starters is the mystery surrounding the downtown food truck ban. You see, if you go back through the videos of city council meetings you will not find any discussion of the ban and yet it appears in the written minutes. At least, that's how I understand it.

Then there's the rates: $650.oo a month (Update: Hat Tip Jeri Johnson $1350.oo full day) to be paid to the City of Greensboro on top of the ordinary expenses of operating a specialty built truck that probably costs roughly $1000.oo a month to own and a few hundred Dollars to operate not including the cost of groceries, hired help or the possibility that the owner of said truck might hope to make a profit. Look folks, stainless steel ain't cheap and the very idea that mobile kitchens have zero overhead is ludicrous to say the least. But that's what Greensboro's downtown restaurant cartel would have you think.

And what business is it of the City what the menu and prices of said food trucks are? Do Downtown Greensboro's 45 restaurants have to submit menus and prices to the City before they're allowed to do business? Are their hours of operation restricted? Hardly. As long as we're legalizing food trucks, why don't we pass some rules that make it cheaper for brick and mortar restaurant owners to spy on their new-found competitors without having to actually go out and buy something off the food trucks, how 'bout it?

In fairness, several downtown Greensboro restaurant owners and non downtown Greensboro restaurant owners have come out in favor of food trucks. I recommend spending your money in restaurants that encourage fair competition.

One only needs look back at the history of Greensboro hotdog carts to see what's going on here. City Council passes laws allowing things to take place but adds so many restrictions that it becomes impossible for such a venture to become profitable for those who aren't already politically connected. When was the last time a hotdog cart was inspected in Greensboro? And where was it inspected? Do health inspectors inspect them on the street during business hours or do they inspect the hotdog carts after hours when they're locked up inside their "sponsoring" restaurants after everyone else has gone home?

Greensboro should be encouraging locally owned and operated food trucks bought from truck dealers right here in Greensboro who spend their money, buy fuel, buy groceries and pay their taxes right here in Greensboro but instead we get a faux food truck ordinance designed to fail so that our politicians can make the claim that they allowed the food trucks to come but the operators weren't interested in Greensboro. And they call it a Greensboro partnership...

You see, it's not that I don't respect authority...