The lady doth protest too much, methinks.- William Shakespeare.
Our long regional nightmare is over. After literally minutes of painstaking deliberation, the Common Council of the City of Buffalo has at last issued rules and regulations governing local Food Trucks. Those valiant brick and mortar operation (let's call them BM's) have succeeded in winning almost precisely what was offered to them by the food truck operators from the beginning.
The fears of these BM’s have been assuaged and the city is safe from the twin perils of mass littering and public urination. I am certain that these BM’s are raking in record profits with their success.
Okay, enough snark. Buffalo, NY, the city that cannot build a damned bridge after 20 years wasted time considering Food Trucks at the urging of a few scared business owners. Let's be clear here - we are not talking health and safety issues. Their prep-kitchens and trucks are inspected by the appropriate Health Authorities. The last thing a food purveyor operating on a shoestring budget needs is a case of food poisoning. We are talking about a fear of competition.
Much has been written about this issue. I particularly commend to you the work of Christa Glennie Seychew and Andrew Galarneau, not only because they're fair and balanced, but because they're my friends. The Buffalo News Editorial Board came on one side of the issue. On the opposing side was this opinion piece and a series of letters to the Editors, including one by your valiant scribe. It’s a rare issue that I find myself in complete agreement with the libertarian Institute for Justice.
What stood out for me were the voices that weren't raised – those Chefs and Restaurateurs among whom I still consider myself a small part. To some extent I attribute this to the absence of fear of such completion. This perception is supported by one friend reported to have said “if they park in front, I’ll just make the best f**king taco ever.”
It is more than not being afraid, I think. It is also that these restaurateurs understand that these trucks are a sign of a healthy restaurant and food environment. The food truck explosion exists from coast-to-coast from Kogi in Los Angeles through the metropolis of New York. When you find that restaurateurs as diverse as a Zane Caplansky of the famous deli in Toronto and José Andres of Washington DC are opening food trucks there must be something to it.
We have such an environment here in Western New York and I am glad to be a part of it. One other observation - a good food truck will bring me downtown and that won’t be the only place I spend money. Those BM’s won’t. They do not receive my custom even at their suburban locations. Life’s too short to eat bad food.