phantom gourmetWORCESTER, MA – Some Worcester restaurant owners made it clear Wednesday they do not want the city to relax its rules to allow more food trucks.

Tom Oliveri, owner of Peppercorn’s on Park Avenue, was among those who said the trucks would steal business from established restaurants.

“It’s not going to put me out of business,” Oliveri said, but “the thing you guys need to consider are the smaller guys who haven’t been around a long time.”

The city council economic development committee is re-examining the city’s tough regulations on food trucks. The mobile restaurants are now required to move every five minutes, and are prohibited from setting up shop anywhere near another restaurant. The rules, food truck advocates have argued, make it all but impossible to operate a food truck in Worcester.

Councilor Frederick Rushton has led a push to loosen those regulations. Rushton said the push was on behalf of increasing calls from residents for food trucks.

Every major city has a food truck culture, Rushton argued.

“It’s just like the Internet. It was Borders Books at one point and now It’s Amazon. There were desktop computers, now it’s an iPad,” Rushton said. “It’s an evolution.”

The committee listened to public speakers on Wednesday. The city council must eventually decide if and how it wants to alter the city’s rules — if the city should allow more food trucks, and where and when they would be allowed.

Most of the restaurant owners said they would welcome more public events that drew food trucks to a concentrated area. Elm Park for the past two summers has hosted a food truck festival.

But restaurant owners said they were concerned trucks would set their parking brakes right in front of their entrances and undercut their businesses.

Among the speakers was Dave Andelman, CEO of the popular local food television show Phantom Gourmet. Andelman is also president of the Restaurant and Business Alliance, a Massachusetts restaurant trade association.

Andelman said food trucks were fine as part of a occasional festival, or on private rented space, but not on any public street. The trucks employ very few part-timers and are often based out of the cities in which they operate, which makes it hard for cities to regulate and collect taxes from them, he said.

“Food trucks will cause residents to lose jobs,” Andelman told the committee. He said food trucks are taking up valuable space in Boston and not contributing enough to the city.

“I do not believe that the food truck policy in Boston is paying for itself… i do not believe it’s created one full-time job for a resident of Boston.”

Find the remainder of the article by John F. Hill at  <here>