OGDEN, UT - I love it when capitalists beg government to put its boot on their competitors’ throats.
It’s equally ironic to watch when citizens who are proud free-marketers don’t stick up for competition in business.
I’m referring to the dustup in downtown Ogden over the past couple of months between brick-and-mortar restaurants and so-called “food trucks” — vehicles that are little more than rolling kitchens equipped with a cash register that serve all kinds of foods, often for a reasonable price. Established Junction City restaurants want the food trucks kept out of downtown and, instead, relegated to manufacturing zones.
In short, they don’t like the idea of competing eateries that are, quite literally, more agile.
Believe it: Restaurant owners persuaded the Ogden City Council to help them restrict the trucks. The just-passed ordinance reads, in part, “food trucks must not be parked within 200 feet of an existing restaurant, food cart or church; food trucks are not allowed in The Junction or Historic 25th Street District; food trucks can operate only between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and access is required to a permanent bathroom facility when a food cart is parked on private property. For the time being, food carts in commercial zones will also be capped at five.”
In other words, don’t expect to see food trucks in downtown Ogden anytime soon. The ordinance is a de facto ban. Plus, unless I’m missing something, the distance-from-a-church restriction is just weird.
I love food trucks. They park all over the Salt Lake City area every weekday. Sometimes the lines of customers are long and other times they’re not — it all depends on food quality, price and, as far as I can tell, the weather. I don’t see nearly as many people lining up in cold or wet weather as I do when the sun is shining.
As for restaurants with storefronts? Well, apparently I prefer them by a wide margin over the trucks. I never carry cash; I purchase everything with a debit/credit card. So I can look at the history of my spending when it comes to lunches and suppers at eating establishments along the Wasatch Front.
It surprised me to discover that I average only one food-truck meal per month. The rest of my purchased meals are split about evenly between fast-casual and old-fashioned sit-down restaurants with waiters.
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