The feud between restaurants and food trucks may not end any time soon. The Minnesota Food Truck Association (MNFTA) hosted Mike Mulligan and Doug Sams of the Downtown Food Committee Tuesday night to discuss possible solutions.
The food truck association and the restaurant group have been at odds with each other after brick-and-mortar eatery closures. Restaurant owners blame food trucks for taking away business, and food trucks operators say customers know where they're going to eat. The main hitch for Sams, DFC president and D'Brians Deli & Catering founder and president, is the number of trucks along Marquette, between Seventh and Ninth Streets. He said a solution would be designated parking zones for food trucks, where mobile vendors would have permanent parking spots scattered across the city.
"We are foodies, you're foodies," Sams said at the meeting. "We have a lot in common. Everybody loves food trucks; the problem is the concentration on Marquette Avenue."
Food truck owners, like World Street Kitchen truck co-owner Sameh Wadi, didn't think the zones would be a solution because there are so many food trucks, that there won't be enough spaces. "The same challenge we have is the same challenge you have," said Wadi who also co-owns two brick-and-mortar restaurants. "It's the same broken record. There's not enough parking spaces in Minneapolis. We're thinking very short term right now."
Mulligan and Sams also offered other ordinance changes, like adding more food truck access in parking lots. Mulligan, who owns multiple Jimmy Johns in the city, stressed that the restaurants and food trucks are not adversaries, and that these ideas would help business.
Food truck owners at the meeting were hesitant with the proposals. Motley Crews Heavy Metal Grill Food That Rocks! truck owner Marty Richie said the two industries need to work together. "It needs to be a symbiotic relationship," Richie said. "Rather than fighting it, why not join us. We're not going anywhere."
MNFTA president and AZ Canteen co-owner John Levy said he's open to solutions, as long as it increases business for the food trucks. "I'm in no hurry," Levy said. "I'm not interested in zones unless it opens up business. If it takes away space, I don't support that." He added that changing the ordinance now might be a hasty decision.
— Urmila Ramakrishnan
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