SACRAMENTO, CA – The future of mobile food trucks in Sacramento was discussed Monday night at the first in what will likely be many meetings between mobile food vendors, “brick-and-mortar” restaurateurs, city leaders and advocacy groups.
The meeting, held at The Kitchen restaurant, 2225 Hurley Way, was not open to the public, City Councilman Steve Cohn said Monday morning.
An ordinance limiting food trucks to operating within the city to 30-minute stops has been contested more vehemently lately. The SactoMoFo mobile food festival April 30 drew an estimated 10,000 people, prompting a closer look at the ordinance.
Several gourmet food trucks, including Mini Burger Truck and Wicked ’Wich, have recently begun operating in the area.
Monday’s meeting was a step in that direction.
“It was a productive meeting, and there are some issues we need to address,” City Councilman Darrell Fong said Wednesday. “There’s still a lot more work, and a lot more hurdles to get over, but I think we can make it work.”
Some of the issues raised at the meeting, attended by approximately 30 people, according to Fong, are parking, competition and making sure mobile food vendors are accountable for taxes and permit fees.
“City restaurants are struggling, too,” said Fong, whose brother is a partner in the Mikuni restaurant organization. “Sometimes they fear the competition could put them out of business. But on the other hand, it’s competition that people want, right?”
California Restaurant Association Legislative and Public Affairs Director Daniel Conway was at the meeting as well, and he said it represents an early step in moving away from the conceptual aspect of allowing food trucks to operate more freely in the city toward the reality of it.
The goal of the CRA, which has been around for about 100 years, is to be the voice of restaurants in the state and provide industry information to them, according to its website. Conway said it represents both traditional and mobile restaurants.
“I think, really, the value of Monday night’s meeting was to provide some clarity and better understanding of everyone involved,” he said. “It’s getting more concrete. Mobile operators were there, brick-and-mortar (restaurant) owners were there – a very diverse set of perspectives.”
Conway said he thinks food trucks can coexist with traditional restaurants in the city, and he pointed to other California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, where food trucks are well-known.
“We have a familiarity with it that hopefully is providing value to this conversation,” he said, adding that much of the recent local information has come from news stories and rumors, which aren’t restaurant-specific or always accurate. “Everyone is striving for a balanced and reasonable approach.”
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