Business Permits to Go: The Food Truck Debate

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Food Truck Debate

How do you feel about food trucks? It’s a question that many cities and suburbs around the country have been asking ever since the food truck craze began expanding from hotbeds like Los Angeles, Austin, and Portland, Oregon. What makes these food trucks a treat – and a threat – depending on your point of view, is that the fare can often compare to that of more traditional sit-down restaurants, without the owner having to “sit” their rolling business in any one location.

In cities and towns where food trucks are a fairly new phenomenon, owners often face issues getting permits to park and operate their businesses. Close to BuildMyBiz HQ, the Town of Henrietta, New York voted on May 2 to allow food trucks within town lines after a long debate between truck owners, customers, and officials about where food trucks could legally operate. Will they harm other local restaurants? Is it unfair competition? In the case of Henrietta, City Newspaper of Rochester, NY quoted board member Bill Mulligan as saying, “This is a guy trying to get started, and hopefully if he does well, at some point down the road he will build a building or buy a building and operate a full-scale restaurant. I’m very upbeat about it. I think it has some merit.”

Local customers cheered the decision, but the jury is still out on whether food trucks help or hurt the local economy. Maybe they’re just another food fad sweeping the nation, or perhaps they’ll become a permanent fixture of our cities, towns, and villages. If so, operating a food truck may become a case of “if you can’t beat them, hit the road.”

Correction 5/4/2013: Added attribution to the board member quote.

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