Home » St. Louis County »STL Region »Street Vending » Currently Reading:

Poll: Thoughts on the Regulation of Food Trucks & Carts?

June 19, 2011 St. Louis County, STL Region, Street Vending 50 Comments
ABOVE: Customers lined up to buy pizza from Pi on Locust St recently

Saw this bit of information last week about a new regulation regarding food trucks in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights:

The code requires rolling merchants to operate within health regulations and have a trash receptacle available. They may operate only on occupied properties, with the owner’s permission, and only while the primary establishment is operating or for 12 hours, whichever is less. Also, they may not establish a stand within 25 feet of a public road. (STLtoday.com)

Unlike urban places, I don’t think Maryland Heights has any on-street parking, except maybe in residential neighborhoods. Still, food trucks are booming in St. Louis:

The food truck trend has hit St. Louis with a bang, with more trucks than ever now trolling the streets to serve up everything from pizza to tacos to cupcakes to hungry St. Louisans willing to track down their mobile meals on Facebook and Twitter. (Sauce Magazine)

Cities, including the City of St. Louis, are grappling with how to regulate food trucks and other food vendors. Health regulations seem a no-brainer but the issue of where they are or are not allowed to vend is the big issue.

ABOVE: Mangia Mobile at the recent GroupHugSTL event

Officials may long for the day when the most mobile food vendors just had a stainless steel hot dog cart.

There are 190 food-service establishments in downtown St. Louis, and some restaurateurs fear being pushed out of business. “Inherently, it starts out being unlevel, because of the cost to operate a food service in a truck versus an established lease,” said Maggie Campbell, president and CEO of Partnership for Downtown St. Louis. While food trucks reflect the vitality of the neighborhood, Campbell wants to make sure their presence doesn’t end up hurting brick-and-mortar restaurants. “The most ideal outcome would be for food trucks to enjoy being downtown and have a strong enough customer base to invest in a storefront,” she said.

So there you go, regulation isn’t about public safety, it’s about protecting other businesses. Pi has two locations in the City of St. Louis and will open a downtown location at 6th & Washington in the Mercantile Exchange bldg (formerly known St. Louis Centre).

ABOVE: Sarah's Cake Stop vending at a recent event downtown

I personally love street food from carts and trucks.  I’ve purchased food from all four trucks pictured in this post, but I understand the need to have some regulations in place so it’s not a free for all (like valet parking).

ABOVE: The Fire and Ice Cream Truck is often on 9th Street in Citygarden

I recently started a Street Food STL list on Twitter to help track the growing number of trucks and other mobile food vendors.  The newest truck on Twitter is literally the oldest:

The Fire and Ice Cream Truck beat the food truck trend by a few years, quietly selling locally made ice cream from a rehabbed vintage fire truck along the riverfront. But now the truck has joined the fray, moving to a semi-permanent location on Tenth [Ninth!] Street between Market and Chestnut, in the middle of Citygarden (Ninth and Market streets; 314-802-9571 or citygardenstl.org). And it couldn’t be more perfect. (Riverfront Times)

The poll this week seeks to find out reader’s thoughts on efforts to regulate mobile food vendors. The poll is in the upper right corner of the blog, results will be published Wednesday June 29th.

– Steve Patterson

 

 

Currently there are "50 comments" on this Article:

  1. Wanderlustpizza says:

    Mobile gastronomes are threatening brick and mortar restaurants? Innovation is key to our economic system. Did the drive-thru put them out of business? Did delivery ruin the scene?

    As a former restaurant owner, I understand the capital it takes to own and operate a brick and mortar…and it’s not encouraging. Profit margins are slim and odds even slimmer that survival becomes assured.

    Food truck operators have increaes odds in their favor by decreasing amounts of capital output to launch, reducing operating costs, and have aggressively embraced technology to cultivate a customer base. If we were the auto industry, we’d be the darlings of the business world being feted for our success. Instead, in St. Louis, we’re the bad guys on the block putting restaurateurs out of business.

    Free enterprise needs innovation to drive it. And free enterprise is never free. Certainly there can be regulation, but make it fair and comparable to what brick and mortars must operate with. Don’t be reactionary and strangle an industry that pays the city all sorts of taxes and fees and brings a fresh and vibrant feeling to a city that struggles to remain vital.

     
  2. Wanderlustpizza says:

    Mobile gastronomes are threatening brick and mortar restaurants? Innovation is key to our economic system. Did the drive-thru put them out of business? Did delivery ruin the scene?

    As a former restaurant owner, I understand the capital it takes to own and operate a brick and mortar…and it’s not encouraging. Profit margins are slim and odds even slimmer that survival becomes assured.

    Food truck operators have increaes odds in their favor by decreasing amounts of capital output to launch, reducing operating costs, and have aggressively embraced technology to cultivate a customer base. If we were the auto industry, we’d be the darlings of the business world being feted for our success. Instead, in St. Louis, we’re the bad guys on the block putting restaurateurs out of business.

    Free enterprise needs innovation to drive it. And free enterprise is never free. Certainly there can be regulation, but make it fair and comparable to what brick and mortars must operate with. Don’t be reactionary and strangle an industry that pays the city all sorts of taxes and fees and brings a fresh and vibrant feeling to a city that struggles to remain vital.

     
    • squid lips says:

      YES and more importantly YOU bring the FOOD to US – a different variety everyday! We’re busy inside and tired of eating at the same old places in our vicinity, or having pizza or sandwiches delivered.  Food Trucks are the same as a brick & mortar delivering to your door, like PI bringing it to us from the Loop, for example. 

      It does feel like there’s more hustle bustle in St Louis with the trucks out, it feels like a community vs everyone in cars going thru the drive thru :

      AND fresher, healthier, cuisine rather than “takhomasak” to coin a phrase…

       
  3. Sonny says:

    As long as they meet health and safety regulations, I am a strong supporter of mobile food vendors. Let’s not fight over the deck chairs on the Titanic. Anything that augments business activity and the buzz around downtown should be embraced. Let’s stop the protectionist paranoia today. Let’s be American. Allow any legitimate business to proceed. Embrace them. That’s how to boost a neighborhood. Not by worrying about the bricks and mortar places. They’ll survive if they provide great food and great service. Period. Believe in ABUNDANCE, not competition.

     
  4. Sonny says:

    As long as they meet health and safety regulations, I am a strong supporter of mobile food vendors. Let’s not fight over the deck chairs on the Titanic. Anything that augments business activity and the buzz around downtown should be embraced. Let’s stop the protectionist paranoia today. Let’s be American. Allow any legitimate business to proceed. Embrace them. That’s how to boost a neighborhood. Not by worrying about the bricks and mortar places. They’ll survive if they provide great food and great service. Period. Believe in ABUNDANCE, not competition.

     
  5. Anonymous says:

    Three thoughts.  One, agree on meeting the health regulations part.  My concern is being able to locate an offender should a problem occur.  With bricks and mortar, that’s a pretty easy thing to do.  With a mobile vendor, that can become much more difficult, for either the health department or for an ambulance-chasing attorney.

    Second, these mobile vendors usually offer few, if any, public sanitation facilities for their customers, things like restrooms and/or a place to wash one’s hands.  If you work in an office nearby, it’s probably no big deal.  But if you’re out biking or working on a construction site, these basic amenities should be available before one eats.

    Finally, most of these trucks come nowhere close to meeting ADA regulations for service counter heights / acessibility.  How do you square your love of street food with your beliefs that every business must comply with the letter of the law when it comes to ADA compliance?

     
  6. JZ71 says:

    Three thoughts.  One, agree on meeting the health regulations part.  My concern is being able to locate an offender should a problem occur.  With bricks and mortar, that’s a pretty easy thing to do.  With a mobile vendor, that can become much more difficult, for either the health department or for an ambulance-chasing attorney.

    Second, these mobile vendors usually offer few, if any, public sanitation facilities for their customers, things like restrooms and/or a place to wash one’s hands.  If you work in an office nearby, it’s probably no big deal.  But if you’re out biking or working on a construction site, these basic amenities should be available before one eats.

    Finally, most of these trucks come nowhere close to meeting ADA regulations for service counter heights / accessibility.  How do you square your love of street food with your beliefs that every business must comply with the letter of the law when it comes to ADA compliance?

     
    • Making sure an ambulance chasing attorney can find a truck shouldn’t be the concern of a municipality. Besides, all you have to do is check Twitter to know where they are.

      As for ADA I’ve never had any issues. Like many non-ADA compliant brick & mortar businesses, the staff take extra steps to accommodate me.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        So, as long as the staff is willing to “take extra steps to accomodate” you, the ADA doesn’t really matter?  These vehicles are all providing a “public accomodation” and they’ve all been constructed or converted well past the effective date of the ADA.  So just because they’re “cool”, they shouldn’t be held to the same standards of, say, a Chipotle?  A year ago, “The federal appeals court, hearing the case of Maurizio Antoninetti vs. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in Pasadena, Calif., ruled Monday that a written “Customers With Disabilities Policy” failed to provide disabled customers the “Chipotle experience” of watching their food being prepared, court records state. The lawsuit stems from a wall in the restaurants that is too tall to allow customers in wheelchairs to watch their food being assembled. Before Mr. Antoninetti, a paraplegic, sued the two San Diego-area Chipotle restaurants, they accommodated people in wheelchairs by showing them samples of food on serving spoons, in cups or by holding the food with tongs.

        http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20100727/NEWS/100729919

         
        • JZ71 says:

          Among other things, the appeals court judges said they agreed with Vandeveld’s position that Chipotle’s written policy and workaround procedures “do not constitute ‘equivalent facilitation’ because they do not involve ‘use of other designs and technologies’ or ‘provide [him with] substantially equivalent or greater access to and usability of the facility.’”Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/chipotle-restaurants-are-ada-compliant#ixzz1Pk00d7lQ

           
        • No guideline exists specifically to service windows in food trucks. The main thing I see nationally is the location of food truck events be held in accessible locations.

           
        • Eric says:

          “ruled Monday that a written “Customers With Disabilities Policy” failed
          to provide disabled customers the “Chipotle experience” of watching
          their food being prepared, court records state. The lawsuit stems from a
          wall in the restaurants that is too tall to allow customers in
          wheelchairs to watch their food being assembled.”

          Wow. Requiring a restaurant to be renovated at a likely cost of tens of thousands of dollars, so that the one in a thousand paraplegic customers will be able to WATCH THEIR FOOD BEING COOKED?

          Do you really think anyone would have voted for the ADA if they knew this would be the result?

           
          • JZ71 says:

            If the chain had followed the law in the first place, they wouldn’t have to be spending “tens of thousands of dollars” now.  The ADA is civil rights legislation, passed to protect the rights of that “one in a thousand”. 

             
      • squid lips says:

        Yes Steve! whoever heard of such an argument!?  Those food truck guys will bend over backwards to accomodate all customers, bring the menu to you and get the food back out to you!

        And, biking or working on a construction site? — bring wet wipes… construction site provides porta-potties for their workers… and if they bring their lunch on their bike ride, who’s responsibility is it to provide the biker with sanitation?

         
  7. Making sure an ambulance chasing attorney can find a truck shouldn’t be the concern of a municipality. Besides, all you have to do is check Twitter to know where they are.

    As for ADA I’ve never had any issues. Like many non-ADA compliant brick & mortar businesses, the staff take extra steps to accommodate me.

     
  8. Anonymous says:

    So, as long as the staff is willing to “take extra steps to accomodate” you, the ADA doesn’t really matter?  These vehicles are all providing a “public accomodation” and they’ve all been constructed or converted well past the effective date of the ADA.  So just because they’re “cool”, they shouldn’t be held to the same standards of, say, a Chipotle?  A year ago, “The federal appeals court, hearing the case of Maurizio Antoninetti vs. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in Pasadena, Calif., ruled Monday that a written “Customers With Disabilities Policy” failed to provide disabled customers the “Chipotle experience” of watching their food being prepared, court records state. The lawsuit stems from a wall in the restaurants that is too tall to allow customers in wheelchairs to watch their food being assembled. Before Mr. Antoninetti, a paraplegic, sued the two San Diego-area Chipotle restaurants, they accommodated people in wheelchairs by showing them samples of food on serving spoons, in cups or by holding the food with tongs.

    http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20100727/NEWS/100729919

     
  9. Anonymous says:

    Among other things, the appeals court judges said they agreed with Vandeveld’s position that Chipotle’s written policy and workaround procedures “do not constitute ‘equivalent facilitation’ because they do not involve ‘use of other designs and technologies’ or ‘provide [him with] substantially equivalent or greater access to and usability of the facility.’”Read more: http://www.nrn.com/article/chipotle-restaurants-are-ada-compliant#ixzz1Pk00d7lQ

     
  10. No guideline exists specifically to service windows in food trucks. The main thing I see nationally is the location of food truck events be held in accessible locations.

     
  11. thoughts from south grand says:

    I guess I am thinking, who cares what Maryland Heights does?  Who goes to Maryland Heights?

     
  12. thoughts from south grand says:

    I guess I am thinking, who cares what Maryland Heights does?  Who goes to Maryland Heights?

     
    • Thoughts From Maryland Heights says:

      You mean the city with free trash service, books that are in the black, roads that are paved, taxes that are low, good school systems, diverse walkable community, low crime, good neighbors, lower rates of insurance, and a lower cost of living than the city?
      Yeah, you’re right.  No one would want to live in such a community.

       
  13. Thoughts From Maryland Heights says:

    You mean the city with free trash service, books that are in the black, roads that are paved, taxes that are low, good school systems, diverse walkable community, low crime, good neighbors, lower rates of insurance, and a lower cost of living than the city?
    Yeah, you’re right.  No one would want to live in such a community.

     
  14. heldover says:

    “You mean the city with free trash service, books that are in the black, roads that are paved, taxes that are low, good school systems, diverse walkable community, low crime, good neighbors, lower rates of insurance, and a lower cost of living than the city?
    “Yeah, you’re right.  No one would want to live in such a community.”
    Touche, Maryland Heights.  Touche…. 😉

    Look as long as these guys are keeping everything (including themselves) clean, I would buy from them.  There’s a hot dog vendor by my work that parks there in the morning and stays throughout the day.  I’d rather spend $4 for a brat with him then go somewhere else and have to spend more money.

     
  15. heldover says:

    “You mean the city with free trash service, books that are in the black, roads that are paved, taxes that are low, good school systems, diverse walkable community, low crime, good neighbors, lower rates of insurance, and a lower cost of living than the city?
    “Yeah, you’re right.  No one would want to live in such a community.”
    Touche, Maryland Heights.  Touche…. 😉

    Look as long as these guys are keeping everything (including themselves) clean, I would buy from them.  There’s a hot dog vendor by my work that parks there in the morning and stays throughout the day.  I’d rather spend $4 for a brat with him then go somewhere else and have to spend more money.

     
  16. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Let them do whatever. Food carts are not as good as a sit down establishment. They contribute to street life and are better than a fast food drive thru.

     
  17. Douglas Duckworth says:

    Let them do whatever. Food carts are not as good as a sit down establishment. They contribute to street life and are better than a fast food drive thru.

     
  18. Theresia says:

    Exactly, no one would want to live in such a lame community. Stay there and out of St. Louis

     
  19. I love food trucks. They get people out and walking around in the city and I love to see that. Make them meet specific health reguations, that seems like a no brainer. As for competing with brick & mortar stores…. great point @ Wanderlust Pizza: ‘Mobile gastronomes are threatening brick and mortar restaurants? Innovation is key to our economic system. Did the drive-thru put them out of business? Did delivery ruin the scene?’

     
  20. I love food trucks. They get people out and walking around in the city and I love to see that. Make them meet specific health reguations, that seems like a no brainer. As for competing with brick & mortar stores…. great point @ Wanderlust Pizza: ‘Mobile gastronomes are threatening brick and mortar restaurants? Innovation is key to our economic system. Did the drive-thru put them out of business? Did delivery ruin the scene?’

     
  21. JZ71 says:

    “Lame” is insulting to people with disabilities!

     
  22. JZ71 says:

    Regulating where food trucks may park and operate is not much different than zoning.  You can have very little (Houston) or you can have a lot (Ladue), but you can’t do it selectively.  Either you’re going to regulate everything (smoking, valet parking, hours of operation, noise) or you’re going to take a laissez faire attitude, and let the market decide what survives and what fails, and where.  While regulations may be viewed as “protecting” existing businesses, in reality they’re protecting both the individual and the larger community.  That street taco truck may be cool in a business district, but how cool would it be if Cousin Eddie (from National Lampoon’s Vacation) decided to park his RV in front of your house?!  In both cases they’re similar uses, only one’s in a fixed structure and one’s in a large vehicle parked on the street.

     
  23. JZ71 says:

    Regulating where food trucks may park and operate is not much different than zoning.  You can have very little (Houston) or you can have a lot (Ladue), but you can’t do it selectively.  Either you’re going to regulate everything (smoking, valet parking, hours of operation, noise) or you’re going to take a laissez faire attitude, and let the market decide what survives and what fails, and where.  While regulations may be viewed as “protecting” existing businesses, in reality they’re protecting both the individual and the larger community.  That street taco truck may be cool in a business district, but how cool would it be if Cousin Eddie (from National Lampoon’s Vacation) decided to park his RV in front of your house?!  In both cases they’re similar uses, only one’s in a fixed structure and one’s in a large vehicle parked on the street.

     
  24. JZ71 says:

    Regulating where food trucks may park and operate is not much different than zoning.  You can have very little (Houston) or you can have a lot (Ladue), but you can’t do it selectively.  Either you’re going to regulate everything (smoking, valet parking, hours of operation, noise) or you’re going to take a laissez faire attitude, and let the market decide what survives and what fails, and where.  While regulations may be viewed as “protecting” existing businesses, in reality they’re protecting both the individual and the larger community.  That street taco truck may be cool in a business district, but how cool would it be if Cousin Eddie (from National Lampoon’s Vacation) decided to park his RV in front of your house?!  In both cases they’re similar uses, only one’s in a fixed structure and one’s in a large vehicle parked on the street.

     
  25. JZ71 says:

    Regulating where food trucks may park and operate is not much different than zoning.  You can have very little (Houston) or you can have a lot (Ladue), but you can’t do it selectively.  Either you’re going to regulate everything (smoking, valet parking, hours of operation, noise) or you’re going to take a laissez faire attitude, and let the market decide what survives and what fails, and where.  While regulations may be viewed as “protecting” existing businesses, in reality they’re protecting both the individual and the larger community.  That street taco truck may be cool in a business district, but how cool would it be if Cousin Eddie (from National Lampoon’s Vacation) decided to park his RV in front of your house?!  In both cases they’re similar uses, only one’s in a fixed structure and one’s in a large vehicle parked on the street.

     
  26. Anonymous says:

    Anyone seen anything written on the economics of food trucks vs. brick and mortar restaurants.  What is the tipping point?  I assume it is cheaper to run a food truck, but at some point the model limits income potential.  Why is Cha Cha Chow operating a food truck, while LaVellasana is significantly expanding its brick and mortar presence on Cherokee?  I’m just curious.

     
  27. matthb says:

    Anyone seen anything written on the economics of food trucks vs. brick and mortar restaurants.  What is the tipping point?  I assume it is cheaper to run a food truck, but at some point the model limits income potential.  Why is Cha Cha Chow operating a food truck, while LaVellasana is significantly expanding its brick and mortar presence on Cherokee?  I’m just curious.

     
  28. There are a few articles online but nothing definitive. The entry point is less than a brick & mortar restaurant but the sales are also less. The operator still has risk and has long days.

     
  29. Webby says:

    There’s a brief article on the costs of opening a food truck at
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-food-trucks-box-20110508,0,979598.story

     
  30. Dave says:

    I don’t buy the argument that food trucks take away business from brick & mortar restaurants.  Instead, they likely pull new people out onto the streets that weren’t there before.  Once out, they would be more likely to frequent restaurants that they see on the street when walking to/from the food truck.  This also increases the pedestrian traffic which makes for a more vibrant city and may enhance the possibilities of other retail to setup shop.

     
  31. Dave says:

    I don’t buy the argument that food trucks take away business from brick & mortar restaurants.  Instead, they likely pull new people out onto the streets that weren’t there before.  Once out, they would be more likely to frequent restaurants that they see on the street when walking to/from the food truck.  This also increases the pedestrian traffic which makes for a more vibrant city and may enhance the possibilities of other retail to setup shop.

     
  32. samizdat says:

    Aaah, the roach-coach makes a comeback.

     
  33. samizdat says:

    Aaah, the roach-coach makes a comeback.

     
  34. Eric says:

    “ruled Monday that a written “Customers With Disabilities Policy” failed
    to provide disabled customers the “Chipotle experience” of watching
    their food being prepared, court records state. The lawsuit stems from a
    wall in the restaurants that is too tall to allow customers in
    wheelchairs to watch their food being assembled.”

    Wow. Requiring a restaurant to be renovated at a likely cost of tens of thousands of dollars, so that the one in a thousand paraplegic customers will be able to WATCH THEIR FOOD BEING COOKED?

    Do you really think anyone would have voted for the ADA if they knew this would be the result?

     
  35. Anonymous says:

    If the chain had followed the law in the first place, they wouldn’t have to be spending “tens of thousands of dollars” now.  The ADA is civil rights legislation, passed to protect the rights of that “one in a thousand”. 

     
  36. You most definitely have made this blog into something  informatics. it is nice to note the short cut keys. It saves our time. Thanks for sharing with us this post.

     

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: An access token is required to request this resource.
Type: OAuthException

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe