Food Truck Food Fight

The Herald’s Editorial this morning argues in favor of allowing food trucks in Downtown Lexington. With a yearlong task force exploration of the subject and some serious push-back from the HVAC-and-plaster restaurant industry, things are shaping up to be… weird.

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That’s a legitimate reason to think carefully about how, where and when mobile food merchants would operate — as the task force has — but it’s not a compelling argument to keep them out of downtown altogether. More important to Lexington, to downtown and ultimately to the business people who have invested there is creating a lively, inviting street scene that will attract people throughout the day and the week. It’s in the interest of everyone to find a compromise that can bring street food to Lexington this summer.

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….Back in Lexington, the task force is considering a pilot program that would allow food carts and trucks after 10 p.m. to cater to the bar crowd after restaurants have closed their kitchens. We’d take that a step further and suggest some regular daylight hours on weekends for those too old or too young to enjoy the late-night scene. It could help dispel the eerie quiet that can settle over downtown Lexington on summer weekend days.

Food trucks across the country aren’t really a “trend.” In addition, existing restaurants can (and successfully have) set up their own food trucks which then act as advertising for their business. There would be nothing to stop Natasha’s or Dudley’s or the other good downtown sit-down restaurants from bringing their tasty food to, say, Ecton Park on Saturday’s for little league season.
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On top of that, food trucks have allowed many blossoming chefs and entrepreneurs without the resources to set up physical shop the chance to burst into their city’s culinary scenes, develop buzz and attract investors.

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As ProgressLex has pointed out, the Cheapside Entertainment District Association, representing restaurants in that area, have pushed for a 200 Foot buffer between any physical locations and a truck. Some even pushed for a limit of just 2 food truck allowances.

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Why then, aren’t they seeking similar buffer zones and number limits on physical restaurant locations? Why would the growing number of sit-down spots not hinder established businesses from making money but certified food trucks would? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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Let there be food trucks.

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1 comment for “Food Truck Food Fight

  1. Danny
    April 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I don’t think the Food Truck commission is looking at bringing food to Ecton Park. From what I understand, they’ve taken something that has largely happened here in Lexington suburban areas (Cardinal Valley comes to mind) and tried to ram it into downtown because…well…nothing can happen in lexington if isn’t downtown-directed. (Exemptions made for horsey culture.)

    Personally, I’m agnostic on it. I like my fast food as much as the next guy, and as a downtown suburbanite saturated in McDonald’s culture, I still want my food fast and right away, but it doesn’t make much sense to put an added pressure on downtown restaurants, who have a much larger city tax footprint than food carts, just to add more options for a downtown that already provides plenty of food options.

    City food cart vendors present themselves as the little guy, but economically, the little guy now locates in the suburbs first before having to pay high-money to get into the city–Cardinal Valley, Ecton Park, outside Country Boys brewery. I don’t think the trial ordnance even mentions those places–from what I can tell, they’ve pretty much just focused on thinking about downtown as a way to develop guidelines for regulating the entire county.

    I saw food trucks used last week on “Selling LA.” In the show, they are used to bring rich LA homebuyers out to a 1.7 million dollar home that the realtor thought was too close to Rodeo Drive to get sold. Having a food cart, because they were “trendy” (I think the realtor’s word), was the main way the show depicted him attracting people. I’d say that constitutes being trendy.

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