MISSOULA, MT – Laws aren’t keeping food trucks from parking in front of other businesses.
Owner of The Walking Moustache Mike Goulah said one food truck in particular is taking business away from him.
“My particular business is affected by the person that I actually bought the business from,” he said. “They turned around and put their food truck right across the street from me.”
The Walking Moustache is a restaurant on West Main Street in downtown Missoula.
Goulah said the food truck takes a lot of business from The Walking Moustache when they are open late at night. He said he can’t call anyone because they set up after hours.
He said city and licensing officials don’t seem to care about where food trucks are parking. The truck has parked near his restaurant every weekend for the better part of a year, he said.
“Ethically, I think they’re wrong,” he said. “It’s all about respect; I wouldn’t do it to them.”
Goulah said he has no problem with food trucks when they are respectful and don’t park in front of his door.
Masala food cart owner Theo Smith said he tries to remain as respectful to restaurants as possible. He typically parks near Draught Works Brewery or at Caras Park events.
It’s definitely something to be sensitive about,” he said. “Legally I’m able to set up around restaurants, but to me that’s just bad etiquette. That’s stepping on other people’s toes and livelihoods.”
Smith said he hasn’t had any trouble with any businesses or restaurants because of this.
“I’m also filling an ethnic food niche that isn’t in competition with brick and mortar restaurants because we’re serving different food,” he said.
Smith started out in the restaurant business. He started and co-owned Iza and later opened another restaurant near Charlo. When he worked in restaurants, he sometimes worked 90 to 100 hours per week, he said.
“I was burnt out on restaurants so I decided to do the food cart, which is seasonal and affords me time off in the winter,” he said.
Smith said maintaining food carts is less costly than traditional restaurants. He said restaurants are all-day operations, while food carts aren’t usually open for more than a few hours.
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