Tags Posts tagged with "Restaurants"


restaurant closings

Restaurant closings happen on a daily basis. This is the hard part of starting a dining establishment, but where is the proof that food trucks are causing financial distress to brick and mortar establishments causing restaurant closings? We’ve yet to find any.

Day after day, and article after article, the consistent theme written by the mainstream media is the same. When brick and mortar restaurant owners are discussing their various points against food trucks and other mobile food vendors it appears to be that these mobile eateries are the cause of numerous restaurant closings. Or at least that’s what they say.

Restaurant Closings Due To Food Trucks?

Unfortunately, it appears the mainstream media has taken these comments by restaurant owners as fact, and consistently publish them as if they were the truth without any type of follow up question to verify these claims.

We all know the country has been in a recession since 2008 and restaurant goers have less disposable income to spend on going out to eat, but to tie fewer sales at a fine dining establishment to food trucks who serve gourmet tacos or grilled cheese sandwiches seems a bit far-fetched to us. Has there been a study released that shows that those who choose to eat out have chosen food carts over restaurants? Have any of the closing eateries tracked their sales since food trucks have begun operating in their areas?

Our main question is this, who and where are all of these restaurants that have been forced to close their doors due to the traffic of food trucks in their city? In researching this question, we have scoured the internet looking for some proof that this is happening. From Los Angeles to San Francisco, from New York to Miami we were unable to find a single case where a restaurant closed based on the fact that they were run out of town by food trucks, food carts or even street vendors. Yes there have been numerous restaurant closings since the start of this recession, but at the same time we found that for every closing there appeared to be at least one restaurant opening in those areas in the last year.

Cities across the country are currently looking at food trucks and other mobile vendors to help spark their floundering economies and restaurant owners seem to come out en mass when the discussions start. What we would like to see happen, is instead of the politicians taking the restaurant owners word that food trucks will force them to close, is for them to ask these owners to provide backup to their claims. Instead of allowing these restaurant lobbies to stifle competition with government backing, ask them to show statistics of cities where trucks and carts have been operating to prove their point.

Before the local newspaper writes an article describing the fear and frustration of the restaurant association, instead of assuming what they are giving you as fact can actually be backed up by proof, not opinion. Not that they should need to be reminded, but news agencies should verify the information they print to make sure it is factual.

Honest debate should always be part of the due diligence done by municipalities before writing laws which open up new avenues for mobile vendors to operate. The big problem is that one of the first talking points used by restaurant owners in the debate is false or yet to be proven.

If you are a restaurant owner that was forced to close because of mobile vendors, please let us know via email, Twitter or Facebook.

We would love to hear from you. We promise to share your story, but only after we are provided with evidence that the sole or primary reason for your business closing was from all of the sales you lost from these restaurants on the go.

staying competitive

Running a food truck has a lot of challenges; dealing with the competition and staying competitive is one of the biggest ones.

Food trucks exist in markets around the world, and what makes them stay competitive depends on their market’s conditions. However, there are some general rules of thumb can help food trucks focus on efficiency and maintain relevance to the customers in their markets.

Whenever consumer spending is slowing down, you need to defend your food truck’s market position and maintain your competitive edge.

You have to always remember, diners don’t have to walk up to your mobile food business – they could always go to another food truck or head into a local restaurant.

You need to remain mindful of this and do all you can to remain competitive. Here are some points to bear in mind:

Staying Competitive: 5 Ways For Food Trucks
  • Play up your strengths and make them matter to your customers.
  • Analyse your competition (mobile and brick and mortar), determine their deficiencies and exploit them.
  • Close the gaps on your own deficiencies.
  • Continually create new points of difference.
  • Know your market, how your points of difference matter to them, and how to reach them.

Do you have any suggestions for other food trucks that are having troubles staying competitive in their markets? If so, drop us an email, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

Provo Downtown

PROVO, UT – Laws already on the books make it so mobile food vendors can’t park on Center Street and University Avenue. However, Provo restaurant owners would like food trucks to keep their distance and stay in other less-competitive locations.

That doesn’t mean the public feels the same way. At least 68 percent of respondents surveyed by the city say they like having the trucks available. The food trucks believe when it comes to special events like the Rooftop Concert series, there should be a spot for them.

At Tuesday’s Municipal Council work session, council members discussed these topics and possible changes to a city ordinance that would regulate food trucks, where they could park and other safety factors.

Amendments to the code could enlarge the radius area in which a food truck can park from the front door of a brick-and-mortar restaurant from 100 feet to a suggested 200 feet. With 56 restaurants in downtown, those circles could put them right out of the downtown business hub.

On March 4, the council asked city staff to find out what residents think. A total of 807 responded to a city online survey and through the city newsletter. Sixty-six percent said they visit a mobile food business at least once a month, while 68 percent said they would like to see more trucks. That same percentage would be more likely to visit downtown if there were more trucks there. Seventy-one percent said they would like to see the trucks at city parks.

While it was a very positive result from the food trucks’ point of view, Dean Judd, a board member of the Downtown Restaurant Association, said he thought the survey was one-sided.

“Food trucks are mobile for a reason,” Judd said. “They are designed to go where restaurants are. They should target other locations. Residents don’t know what owners go through to stay open. They shouldn’t be allowed in downtown Provo.

Find the entire article at heraldextra.com <here>

free_markets_not_crony_capitalismOver the last four years we have continually covered stories of restaurant owners that have lobbied their local politicians to try and rid themselves of competition. Some have been unsuccessful however far too many have found friends in their local city councils and kept food trucks at bay. Yesterday, Daniel J Smith of investors.com used the mobile food industry as an example of how crony capitalism not only hurts our economy but also consumers.

This crony economy — when politicians choose which businesses get special breaks and benefits — is a tragedy for economic freedom and the well-being of businesses and consumers alike. Not only does this system create an unfair playing field, but it also erodes the quality and choice of products and services available to consumers.

Consider the food truck industry that has sprouted up and thrived in many U.S. cities. Culinary entrepreneurs have recognized food trucks as a way to test their ideas among the public without the high cost and risk that come with running a brick-and-mortar restaurant. From burritos and kabobs to cupcakes and doughnuts, the public welcomes the opportunity to try new foods at affordable prices from these mobile kitchens.

But not everyone welcomes choice into their neighborhoods. Threatened by the competition, restaurants have worked successfully with many local governments to regulate food trucks out of business.

In our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., regulations were proposed earlier this year to limit food trucks’ ability to operate and serve customers. Before the changes even went into place, several food truck owners recognized that they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in business and decided to close up shop.

It is cronies who win in situations like this, while customers and entrepreneurs lose.

Knoxville Restaurant Owners
Mine Mine Mine!!!

KNOXVILLE, TN – Downtown restaurant owners are fighting against food trucks near their establishments.

The Downtown Knoxville Restaurant Owners group formed after the city announced they were working on a pilot program for food trucks. Twenty-one restaurants from Gay Street, the Old City, and Market Square hired lawyer, Keith Stewart, to represent them.

He sent a letter to the city Friday outlining their concerns. The letter states,

Downtown restaurant owners believe food trucks have a place in our city, but not in our downtown.

They argue food trucks get the advantage of a prime location without the permanent overhead costs.

“Frankly there are a lot of days where there are

more restaurant seats than there are customers. And we just think it’s unfair for them to come in during peak times and take away the clientele and customers we’ve established over the years,” said Bistro at the Bijou owner, Martha Boggs.

The group requests that all food trucks be confined to the World’s Fair Park area. They also list other concerns such as lack of restroom facilities in food trucks and “tacky, obnoxious” signage. They allege food trucks do not provide a stable tax base or have the same rules and regulations as restaurants.

Meanwhile several food trucks have also formed a group called the Knoxville Mobile Restaurants Association to help further their interests. Organizer Johnathan Borsodi said food trucks operate the same way as brick and mortar restaurants.

“We are actually mobile restaurants. We have the exact same establishment permit that every other restaurants have. In fact we actually have more requirements,” Borsodi said.

He said they also are required to meet the same health codes and provide sales tax revenue to the city and county.

“Savory and Sweet” food truck’s owner, Byron Sambat, said they are not targeting the same customers as downtown restaurants.

Find the entire article at WBIR.com <here>

Since food trucks appeared on the restaurant scene their perceivable threat to brick-and-mortar restaurants has been widely debated, and a recent survey conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company, finds that consumers replace a quick service restaurant (QSR) visit with a food truck visit.

NPD-GroupThe NPD foodservice market research survey, which addressed the awareness and practice of obtaining foods and beverages from food trucks, asked respondents where they would have obtained their meal or snack if not from the food truck, and about half of the consumers surveyed said they would have ordered from a fast food restaurant. Another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned.

The top reasons consumers gave for using food trucks related to availability of “interesting” foods and convenience, which are the traditional strengths of QSR outlets, according to NPD. Since the top foods typically offered by food trucks are hot sandwiches, Mexican foods, cold sandwiches, and soups, Mexican and sandwich QSR places may view food trucks as more direct competition than other restaurant categories. Dayparts are another way in which food trucks compete with QSR outlets since the trucks are primarily used for lunch and snacking, which is likely due to the specific location and the food/beverage/snack items offered, finds NPD.

Although quick service restaurants have more reason than full service operators to be concerned about the prevalence and location of food trucks, another finding of the survey is that while some consumers are regular users, many make purchases from food trucks only very occasionally. Over half of those aware of food trucks in their area say they purchase from them once every two to three months or less often. Further, ordinances and permits vary from city to city, with many municipalities placing considerable restrictions on location and food offerings. In certain parts of the country the weather and season also limit food truck availability outside of the spring/summer months.

“For now at least, food trucks need not be viewed as a threat to restaurant demand nationally,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “However, in markets with a developed food truck presence, QSR operators may wish to take note of the benefits food trucks offer, such as different and fresh food, especially as a means to build their snack business and/or protect lunch traffic.”

fearCHARLES COUNTY, MD – The Charles County commissioners rejected a resolution that would have permitted food trucks in the county after local restaurant owners spoke against the proposal at a public hearing Wednesday.

The proposal would have allowed mobile food trucks to operate in La Plata, Hughesville, Bryans Road, Benedict, Cobb Island, Newburg and Nanjemoy, as well as at county parks, fire departments, the White Plains Golf Course, and Indian Head trailheads and pull-offs. Vendors would have needed to receive permission from the property owners before they could set up.

Art Jolliffe, the 11-year owner of Gilligan’s Pier restaurant in Popes Creek, said he employs 46 people and has paid nearly $115,000 in taxes as a local business.

“I believe that if you let these trucks into our county where they can set up and put any kind of sign on there that they want to, that it’s going to do nothing but hurt the small businesses here in Charles County,” he said.

Jolliffe also took issue with the lone $250 permit prospective food truck vendors would have to pay.

“I pay over $1,000 for my liquor license, $300 for a food license. I pay well, I pay septic, and what are they paying?” he asked. “What’s it say for the small businesses of Charles County? It says we don’t care. That’s what it says to me.

“I worked hard for what I got, and I’d like to keep what I got. It’s hard enough to make a living in this county as it is with all the taxes that we do all have to pay in this county. I’ve got well taxes, I got septic taxes, now I got a rain tax. Are we going to rain tax them, too?”

Next to speak was Gary Fick, head chef at Blue Dog Saloon in Port Tobacco.

“Everything he said,” Fick began. “Pretty much what Art said, but the costs and the regulations aren’t apples to apples for everything.”

Find the entire article by Jeff Newman at SoMDnews.com <here>

downtown akron partnershipAKRON, OH – Officials in Akron aren’t exactly eating up the food-truck craze.

The president of the city council in Akron said Monday that a committee will look into food trucks and what effect they’ve had on established restaurants in other cities where they are popular.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports local food-truck operators and their supporters have been lobbying council through social media and other means to permit them in the city.

But the Downtown Akron Partnership has raised concerns about food trucks competing with downtown restaurants.

Food truck operators, who showed up at the council meeting for the third straight week, said they’re pleased the city is at least considering their request.

Other cities around the country are also dealing with the proliferation of food trucks.

Food trucks have become a popular staple for those in downtown Cleveland. During the summer, food trucks are celebrated with Walnut Wednesdays.

white-castle-food truckWhite Castle is getting ready to serve its square-shaped sliders on wheels with the planned launch later this month of two food trucks in Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, where the company is based.

The so-called CraveMobiles will be available only for events at first—that includes weddings, in case either Harold or Kumar are planning to tie the knot—while company officials determine exactly where the trucks will be stationed, says Jamie Richardson, a White Castle vice president. Once regular locations are mapped out, the trucks will likely stay open 24 hours, just like almost all of White Castle’s brick-and-mortar stores. Richardson says the food-truck menu, although not yet finalized, will include three variations on the chain’s signature sliders and might see items not available in stores, such as salty caramel fries.

The ability to easily test new products is part of what prompted White Castle to jump on the food-truck trend that has swept through big U.S. cities in recent years. Richardson described the trucks as a “strategic tool to test new items and look at various sites for new restaurants. We can see how welcoming a neighborhood is” before investing in a new location. It’s also a play for millennial customers, who are frequent customers of White Castle, according to Technomic research, and who have increasingly flocked to food trucks.

White Castle, which is privately held, currently has a few more than 400 restaurants in 12 states, mainly in the Midwest, New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Tennessee. All locations are company-owned. The chain’s revenue in 2012 was $630 million, of which roughly 15 percent came from its frozen burger line sold in grocery stores, says Richardson.

Other chains have experimented with food trucks as marketing platforms and “rolling test kitchens,” including Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Applebee’s and Sizzler. A National Restaurant Association survey found 6 percent of quick-service restaurants and 4 percent of fast-casual restaurants operated food trucks.

While Richardson does not disclose how much the company has invested in the trucks, he says they have “great potential and are a real worthwhile investment.” White Castle expects the trucks to pay back in less than 18 months. It might depend on how many weddings they book.

Find the original article by Venessa Wong at businessweek.com <here>

Eat-ClubSAN FRANCISCO, CA – Food trucks aren’t exactly new, but most only have one specific type of cuisine — even if that cuisine just happens to be all the latest rage in molecular-gastro Indian-Irish fusion. Not only that, but you’re often stuck waiting in a long line to order and pay, then waiting some more for your food to be ready.

EAT Club, launched a private beta last week, has a unique spin on the way that users get lunch. The service hopes to get rid of all the hassles around waiting in line, paying, and waiting for your food, all with a convenient food truck that serves a variety of foods, and a mobile app to handle ordering and payment.

Over the last few years, EAT Club has served lunchers on the Peninsula with a variety of different food choices, but now it has made its was up to San Francisco, where it will serve startup kids and other hungry office workers. And it’s coming here with a food truck specially designed to provide eaters with a variety of awesome food choices.

EAT Club’s food truck will have a variety of dishes from multiple restaurants available all in the same truck, giving customers a selection of cuisines to choose from. Charter restaurants participating include Bar Tartine, Nopalito, City Smoke House BBQ, and Onigilly, among others. Altogether, EAT Club has more than 30 restaurants signed up so far, and will have options from at least three available on any given day.

How did EAT Club get those restaurants on board? Partly through the food truck itself, which is designed to provide the best experience for customers. A gutted-out old school bus, the EAT Club truck has been renovated with mobile ovens for hot foods and refrigerating units for cold foods. The end result is that all dishes are loaded into the truck right from the kitchen, so that when a customer picks up his food, it’s kept at the desired temperature.

So the food is great, but what about the service? EAT Club handles that with a mobile app that allows you to choose among a bunch of different food options. It provides you with details about why the dishes were picked — EAT Club has a food curator, natch — and more information about the restaurant.

Once you’ve found something you like, you just click to order and the app automatically charges your credit card. After that, you’re free to head down to the truck at your convenience and just pick up your food. No waiting, no fuss.

To start, EAT Club will have its food truck parked around the Financial District and SOMA neighborhoods in San Francisco, hoping to appeal to office workers downtown who don’t have lunch provided to them every day. The app is available now in private beta, as the company tries to measure demand and make sure that it’s got the right amount of food ready for new users.

Find the original article by Ryan Lawler at Tech Crunch <here>

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