Food Trucks Hit Speed Bump at Broadway and Pine [Updated]

A major update, including new details on the cause of the dispute and a lengthy interview with the owner of Monty's Sandwich Emporium, follows the original post after the jump.

Over the first year (and change) of the St. Louis food truck boom, one of the trucks' favored parking spots has been the downtown intersection of North Broadway and Pine Street. Now that bustling business corridor is the site of the latest clash between new mobile food vendors and established bricks-and-mortar restaurants.

On Thursday, December 15, Cha Cha Chow tweeted that it was open for business at Broadway and Pine. After a couple of innocuous follow-up tweets, the truck posted this:

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The next day, Sicily Streat tweeted that it was en route to Broadway and Pine to serve lunch. Shortly thereafter, it posted a similar message:

foodtrucks12192.JPG
In subsequent tweets, often replying to disappointed fans, Cha Cha Chow made it clear (without naming names) that complaints from restaurants located near the intersection of Broadway and Pine had led to the truck's eviction by the police.

Then, over the weekend, Mayor Francis Slay addressed the topic on Twitter, using the #fgs hashtag to signify that the tweet came from him personally, not his staff.

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Case closed? If you're a letter of the law type, maybe. But, if you are a letter of the law type, then you would have to point out that even in the mayor's tart tweet there was an error.

Mayor Slay's press secretary, Kara Bowlin, helps clarify the matter when Gut Check calls to discuss the matter. The "ordinance" to which the mayor referred is actually a rule promulgated by the city's Streets Department. It stipulates that within the "Downtown Vending Zone," a mobile food vendor must remain at least 200 feet from a bricks-and-mortar restaurant.

Kandace Davis, who with Linda Jones owns and operates Cha Cha Chow, argues that the restaurants complaining about the trucks at Broadway and Pine are splitting hairs about the 200-feet rule: "If we're 199 feet [away], that's a huge big deal."

Davis thinks these complaints are symptomatic of a larger lack of respect and an unwillingness to cooperate.

"We make it a point to support every single restaurant," near where they park on a given day, she explains. "We either go buy lunch or trade food. We're just in the habit of making friends. We want them to do well."

Davis suggests an additional concern: "The police officers, as a general rule, are unfamiliar with the rule."

Bowlin disputes this characterization, noting that the police department has a map marking restaurants within the vending zone and the 200-foot radius around each.

As for the conflict between trucks and restaurants, Bowlin admits, "There are a couple of restaurants that are frequent complainers."

As many food trucks have noted on Twitter, the mayor remains a supporter of food trucks. (Indeed, Cha Cha Chow retweeted his remark, without any additional commentary.)

Says Bowlin, "We're fans of good food, whether it's from truck, restaurant or stationary vendor."  But everyone, she adds, has to play by fair rules.

Gut Check continues to work on this story. More as it develops.

---

Update (Wednesday, December 22, 4:05 p.m.):

Cha Cha Chow might not have felt comfortable naming names, but at least a few of the readers who have contributed to this post's wonderfully raucous, impassioned comment thread had no such misgivings.

"The recently opened Monty's is the new complainer," writes "braoul," referring to Monty's Sandwich Company, which opened just over a month ago at 200 North Broadway.

(Sicily Streat also wouldn't name the restaurant(s) involved in the dispute, but in several tweets on the matter it did mention "new" restaurants.)

Monty's co-owner Steve May chimed in farther down in the comment thread to explain his position. Shortly afterward, I spoke with him by phone.

May disputes that he has any kind of vendetta against food trucks. Indeed, while working to open Monty's, he ate at some of the food trucks that counted North Broadway between Pine and Olive as a regular stop.

"We were open for almost a month before anything happened," he says.

Usually, the trucks parked at the south end of the block, by Pine. One day last week, two trucks parked at the north end -- directly in front of Monty's, blocking the temporary signage on which the restaurant is relying until a blade sign is attached to its building. May asked the trucks to move. One obliged; one didn't. He called the police. Once again this week a truck parked directly in front of the restaurant.

"We didn't care that they were on the other corner," he admits. Once they set up shop at his doorstep, though? "That, to me, was kind of offensive."

Asserts May, "Once we called the police, it opened the floodgates" to other restaurants complaining about the trucks' proximity.

As it turns out, while Monty's tolerated the trucks parked at the other end of the block, the restaurant would have been within his rights to complain all along. Food trucks receive a map from the city showing where they can and can't park based on the 200-foot rule. The entire block of North Broadway between Olive and Pine is off-limits.

May dismisses one of the main assumptions that seems to be driving the anti-restaurant backlash in this dispute: "I don't fear any food trucks opening." He points out that, food trucks notwithstanding, he knowingly decided to open a new sandwich joint not very far from Pickle's Deli, the popular Central West End deli that launched a second location at Olive and Seventh in May. He believes how Monty's operates -- roasting all of the meats for its sandwiches, corning its own beef -- will set it apart.

"We open the restaurant in this economy. That's kind of crazy. We want to give people some jobs, create a business that's going to be around, give [customers] what they can't get anywhere else. It's a win for everyone."

Instead, May and his team (and other restaurants in the area) find themselves suddenly cast as anti-competitive, anti-food ogres. "It's a shame," he says. "It's frustrating.

"As a business owner, you get a set of rules. You pay the taxes, you feed the meter."

Cry foul when someone asks you to do the same in kind?

"That's hard for me to accept."

Location Info

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Monty's Sandwich Company

200 N. Broadway, St Louis, MO

Category: Restaurant

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69 comments
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Lone Mountain Truck Leasing
Lone Mountain Truck Leasing

They are stuck in one spot while the food trucks can block people's appearance of the best restaurants at will. There's even some companies that will provide your crew. So you don't must worry about anything.

Lone Mountain Truck Leasing
Lone Mountain Truck Leasing

Finding a vehicle that you can turn in to a vending van entails plenty of time. There's plenty of companies who sell vehicles that are ideal for being converted in to food trucks.

jfl
jfl

the biggest problem with monty's isn't them complaining about the food trucks... it's spending $11-13 for a tiny sandwich, bag of chips and a small glass of soda... not to mention the impersonal counter service and slow delivery of said sandwiches. 

Bluesrule56
Bluesrule56

You are out of your mind.  There is nothing tiny about the sandwiches and for 11-12 bucks you get homemade food instead of processed garbage.  You want subway? go for it. You want processed lunch meat then go to one of the other places in town but I will gladly pay a few bucks more and wait a little longer for real food.

FoodTrucksRTrouble
FoodTrucksRTrouble

Well, it seems other restaurant owners are tired of letting these food trucks encroach on their space. An uprising is occurring in Lees Summit MO. with exactly the same problem. Once one food truck shows up, tons of them do. Eventually, you won't even be able to see the static restaurants!!

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

Yes, I saw that also. Restaurant owners don't put our blood, sweat, and tears into these businesses just to have some food truck roll up and intercept the foot traffic that MAY be headed to the restaurant. Again, I say give them an area where they can all line up, just like restaurants do, and compete with each other on the same level. Apples to apples.

ihatesuburbs
ihatesuburbs

Food trucks; the newest fad for the childish 'NEED NOW, THAT'S MINE!' fuckhead generation. If I owned a restaurant and one of these amateur hour roach coaches parked in front of it I wouldn't bother with the police, I would chase the fucktards off with a baseball bat. If the owners of these travelling shit holes truly knew what they were doing they would have real restaurants. As it is they are simply fleecing a bunch of self serving follower fuckheads that all just want to pat themselves on the back for how fucking trendy and hip they all think they are. Grow up and think for yourselves you bunch of childish dildos.

Ihatehighrisedwellers
Ihatehighrisedwellers

umadbro

ihatesuburbs
ihatesuburbs

What the fuck is that shit supposed to mean? Sorry I don't understand your trendy fucking lazy ass text short hand. Learn to type complete sentences fuckhead. I can picture you now, another fucking trendy hipster texting with your fucking trendy iphone while you drive to get some trendy roach coach food from 'Chocha Chow' while you extoll the virtues of libertarian bullshit.

Danieljoeoconnoe
Danieljoeoconnoe

come on!  a guy goes thru all the buearocratic night marish paperwork and fees to open a brick and mortar and some smuck drives up and parks at his front door selling similar food w/o all the overhead. if i was the restaurant owner i also would be like"get the hell outa here"! 200 ft barrier is more than fair to the foodtruck venders. believe me that truck would be gone one way or another. bottom line.

Chris
Chris

Come on, I think you HAVE to show some sympathy to a business whose view is blocked by a competitor's truck.  That's not competition, that's underhanded.

While SOME of the food trucks serve good, interesting food, I do not think they're the second coming of Christ, and I expect many of them to go out of business after the novelty wears off. Frankly, some of them aren't that good.

Linda
Linda

I want to be Very clear Cha Cha Chow has NEVER parked directly in front of any restaurant. EVER. 

Linda JonesCha Cha Chow

ihatesuburbs
ihatesuburbs

Where is this Chocha Chow restaurant located? Oh I forgot, it's not a restaurant it's a fucking roach coach. Food trucks; just another stupid trend for a bunch of hipster fucks to suck themselves off over.

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

No food trucks at all, should be parking in front of a brick and mortar restaurant. That is disrespectful and unfair. They are stuck in one spot, while the food trucks can block people's view of the much better restaurants at will. They should be sectioned off in a food truck area, and if people want to patronize these maggot-wagons, then so be it, but let it be far from the restaurants.

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

The only law that needs to be changed, is to ban the food trucks from parking near a B&M restaurant, and to give them their own area to function in. The city was short-sighted in it's vision of how our area would work, when it came to the restaurants and the food trucks. Perhaps because of the semi-recent proliferation of food trucks. Nevertheless, things need to change, and I think the time has come for the restaurants to stand up and not let the trucks become an obstacle for people to go around to get to the restaurants.

A1
A1

"Allowing the trucks to park in front of the restaurants at all, should be banned." Did I misconstrue your phrasing of "in front of?" If you READ, no food truck park on front of restaurants. Everyone agrees that should never happen. Parking in a parking spot blocks restaurants how?

Your also missing the point of a public forum. Stirring the pot is how you change laws.

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

Idiot? You got a dog in this race? I didn't think so. If you don't have a restaurant in this area, or a food truck, then frankly, you should stay out of it and let the two parties deal with it themselves. You're not helping anything. Oh, and if you are going to post, PLEASE try to read the words I type. I said restaurants opening next to restaurants is fair, not a food truck parking where people walk to GET to the restaurants. Geez.

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

And I'm sure you've got a lot of knowledge about restaurants bud. No worries, they park where they block the restaurant, they get ticketed or worse. You're obviously another pot-stirrer getting his jollies watching the B&M places lose business. Throw up a special you say? How out of touch is that? You have no idea what food costs. You have no idea how thin the margins are. You have no idea how high the rent is on these spaces!! Get a clue and quit trying to stir up crap.

A1
A1

Idiot. You're choosing to completely ignore fact. No food truck has ever blocked someone's door or even signage. UPS blocks signage all the time. It's called living in the city. Cha Cha did have a "mobile kitchen" do that. Read braoul's post below. A B&M opening next door to another B&M isn't unfair business. It's time to up your game or close down. Idiot (sorry, had to say it again).

braoul
braoul

Oh lookee! Another failed restauranteer commenting. Real nice generalization of something you are so out of touch on. These restaurants need to think different. If they know a food truck is going to be close by (even if it's 200' away), they should whip up a special to draw people in. One day at Pine & Broadway, Chop Shop Sushi and Cha Cha Chow were side by side. Cha Cha pulled out a grilled shrimp tostada special that whipped Chop Shop.

Richard Baber
Richard Baber

You most likely have no idea how tough it is to run a restaurant. Allowing the trucks to park in front of the restaurants at all, should be banned. Again, the city should set aside an area for the food trucks. Then, the competition is fair. Food trucks compete with food trucks, and as mentioned, if they are good enough, certain ones will prevail, while others limp away. Let the B&M's duke it out on level turf.

Your arguments for the food trucks is illogical and simply a way to stir the pot. Also, the maps are perfectly clear and I agree with another poster's comment, change is needed. What change? The distance should be in miles, not feet. It's ridiculous to think that it is fair, to allow a mobile kitchen to park in front of a B&M restaurant. Totally skewed competition and the food trucks know this. I wonder how chacha chow would react if another food truck parked right in front of the door they sell food out of. Hmm....

A1
A1

No food trucks do park "in front of" any B&M! Monty's entrance is blocked by the newsstand! I drove down Broadway and thought they dropped in a sandwich toaster and called it a deli.

The maps are not quite precise. Bravo, ChaCha Chow for physically measuring to find your new spot today! Bravo again for giving out gift certificates to Monty's.

Ddwaythinfo
Ddwaythinfo

St.Louis is so behind in time. It's time for a CHANGE St.Louis, Last time I checked I thought we live in a free democracy society. Brick and mortar business owners feel free to do what you do best and leave others to do the same, believe it or not, there's a lot of hungry people out there, so be fair and share the wealth. Stop being so childish, selfish and greedy. PASS THE PEAS./ 

Its all about me
Its all about me

As always, downtown workers only care about themselves and not the future or survival of permanent businesses that will help stabilize downtown. If food trucks continue to threaten the future of brick and mortar stores, we could end up with more vacant store fronts than we have right now and vacant store fronts are not a good sign of the prosperity of downtown. It seems like we only care about our personal instant gratification. We need to think about the long term future of downtown and filling the empty spaces with permanent businesses who have a stake in downtown. Food trucks have no permanent stake in downtown, they are like vultures who swoop in while the pickins are good and move on when things are bad. If your employer was threatened by by a competing mobile vendor you would be up in arms and complaining too. Maybe a mobile lawyer should set up shop in front of someones law office, and see who complains now. What if every brick and mortar decided to close their doors downtown and we had nothing but mobile businesses left for a few hours per day and every store front was empty. I applaud the stores that are exercising there rights to protect their business and investment in the growth of downtown. And when the financial stability gets better downtown, then maybe there will be room for the food trucks. If you like the food that is on the food trucks, why not protest against them for not opening up a permanent location downtown and showing they have a permanent stake in your patronage and neighborhood. I too have called on the food trucks and they do not threaten my business, but I do care about the survival of businesses who fill vacant store fronts downtown. I have often been asked by out towners where are all the businesses and why is there so many empty store fronts. I just politely answer the businesses are now on wheels and only show up on the good days. Just think, with as many vacant store fronts as we have, we could be know as the nations largest ghost town someday. At one time I wanted to open more stores downtown, now all I do is count the days till my lease expires so I can get out of downtown and get me a truck too. No more landlord, no more rent, no more responsibility, no address, no investment in a neighborhood and if I don't like it or you, I can just move on with the turn of a key. Aaah the life of a gypsy and the freedom of the road.

A1
A1

Which building do you have stake in? How many store fronts were vacant before food trucks? How many restaurants opened and shuttered before food trucks. Food truck owners aren't "gypsies," ass. They live and work in St. Louis. They pay taxes, have employees, pay roaming fees on top of every other license they must get.

I guarantee you will see some open up sister restaurants downtown. Will we see a new concept in dining? Let's have one of these vacant spaces become a popup restaurant to play host to a different Chef each day. Change is always before us. If you can't handle change, you'll be chasing taillights. If you do own a building with vacancies, don't hold on to the dream of a long term successful restaurant. Contact the Food Truck Association and develop a plan to help fill those spaces. The added benefit will bring restauranteurs and entrepreneurs through those spaces to help downtown prosper. It's happening in other cities, it will hopefully happen here.

A1
A1

Oh yeah, to restaurant owners, stop calling 911 if a food truck is potentially violating a rule. There's a police non-emergency number that's appropriate for these incidents.

A1
A1

Ha! I knew we would find common ground. I'm glad I'm not the only one with the urge to push them over.

It is all about me
It is all about me

LOL. Sorry, don't own a bike, but I have to agree with your superlative description of people who ride their bikes down the sidewalk.

A1
A1

I wasn't going to do their dirty work, but you obviously have no qualms. Let me guess, you're the middle aged ass who rides his bike down the city sidewalk, yelling at people to get out of his way.

It is all about me
It is all about me

Since you did not know that number or have the courtesy to include the number in your comment I will do it for you. The non emergency number is 314.234.1212. That's the number I call when I see food trucks in violation. Just for the record, I am also a downtown resident and if anyone wishes to boycott me for calling, feel free to do so.

Steve
Steve

I want to respond to some misconceptions about the wholefood truck issue.  I am one of the ownersof Monty’s and up until last week we never had a problem with any food truckthat parked on Broadway and Pine.  Infact we ate at various food trucks before we opened and were downtown workingon our space.  Last week two food trucksdecided to park directly in front of our entrance on Broadway and Olive whichalso blocked our street sign.  My managerwent out and politely asked if they could not park directly in front of us andone of the trucks obliged but the other did not.  We called and talked to the city and a policeofficer came out and told us they were not allowed to park there and showed usa map that every food truck gets when they receive their license. On this map itshowed our corner but also the entire length of Broadway down to Pine andbeyond since it is surrounded by Calicos, Jimmy Johns, the Diner and Bread Co. We did not ask them toremove food trucks on the Pine corner only ones directly in front of ourbuilding. We never had a problem when the food trucks were on B&P but wedid when they started parking right in front of our entrance.  I will not get into a debate over food trucksvs. brick and mortars and who has an unfair advantage but there are rules inplace and while you may not like them we have to abide by them or try to change them.  

braoul
braoul

Steve, my apologies for mentioning your restaurant was one that wrongfully complained. No food truck should ever be allowed to go windows up in a position that blocks the signage and entrance to a restaurant. That's where the distance comes into play. It's not about how far people have to walk.

For that food truck that refused to move? I hope they realize how wrong and disrespectful it was. If they don't, they should be named.

There's room for success, and I hope Monty's is successful. You seem to have a solid foundation of reason.

Foodie
Foodie

So Steve, if you're really an owner of Monty's, I can respect that position.  I work at broadway/pine and frequent the food trucks and the restaurants in the area, though not Monty's after this started.  If you do not have a problem with food trucks parking on the far side of broadway, only directly in front of your business on that side of the street on broadway, I think that's fair.  I remember the day this happened and it was abnormally busy day for food trucks so more were squeezing in that space, though in all honesty I didn't think any were parked on your side of the street. 

I think what needs to be clarified most is how the 200 feet is measured.  The entire length of broadway between pine and olive should not be restricted, because you cannot walk from most of the locations along that stretch and get to the front door of a restaurant.  You may be able to walk and get to a building a restaurant is in, but it needs to be measured as a person walks, taking into account which side of the street and legal street crossing, to the front door of the restaurant.

If the ordinance is enforced in a logical and not arbitrary manner, I have no issue with it.  Just enforce it the right way and clarify it. 

Steve
Steve

I really am and I completely agree. The rules are not arbitrary, there is a large print out that is given to the trucks when they get their license and it has areas highlighted in blue which are the off limits area.  Again, we were fine with them on the other corner but there are other restaurants at Broadway and Pine and and I do not speak for them.

DTWKR
DTWKR

I work at Broadway and Pine and love the food trucks. I bet the complaints are coming from the nearby restaurants that do not want the competition. 

KIMBO
KIMBO

your ok brad

STLDIVA1014
STLDIVA1014

I work at Busch Stadium and Broadway and Pine is the perfect location for me to walk and grab a quick lunch. I much prefer the food trucks over most of the restaurants downtown. They're only there for a few hours a day. QUIT BI%&*IN'!!! From now on, I'll probably bring my lunch if the food trucks will no longer be allowed.

KIMBO
KIMBO

Anyone who thinks 8th and market is on the outskirts of downtown and is too far to walk from broadway and pine is a fat County fuck.

Robin
Robin

Anyone who makes such an ignorant generalization is themselves a fat County fuck.

Brad
Brad

What about if you work on the Landing like me? It's a much farther walk round trip,

JZ71
JZ71

Umm, while rules can be a PITA, they're known and they should be followed - if you don't like the rule, get it changed, don't bitch about it being enforced (it cuts both ways)!  Plus, part of the food truck concept is "mobile" - it ain't rocket science, don't park too close to a competitor, especially to one known to make your life difficult!  I support free enterprise, I don't support anarchy . . . .

jrw
jrw

As a customer, the rules makes no sense. Th distance between competitors is arbitrary and pro-brick and mortar, and anti-consumer. A competitor should stop complaining about competition and offer a competitive product. That is free enterprise.

JZ71
JZ71

If the "rules make no sense", why are they in place?  Because someone got bored one day?  If I decided to park my business, no matter what it might be, in front of your home, you'd be cool with that? 

I do agree that the "distance between competitors is [both] arbitrary and pro-brick and mortar" - so what?  ANY distance or use rule is going to be arbitrary, whether it's 20', 200', 2000' or two miles.  Should Cha Cha Chow be alowed to park on the sidewalk if they can't find a place on the street?  In front of Monty's?  Blocking their door?  It could help their business!

Remember, the B&M businesses are here 24/7. paying rent and property taxes.  They're invested in downtown or the CWE.  The food trucks don't have the same ties or the same investment - if things don't work, today, this week or this month, guess what, they're down the road and all the city sees is taillights!

I get it, food trucks are cool, the next great thing.  I've even patronized them a few times, along with their ancestors, the roach coaches of yore.  I've also worked with more than a few B&M businesses.  They don't fear competition, they just want a fair and level playing field.  And if you, as a customer, find food truck cuisine to be superior, I'm guessing that you'd be willing to walk an extra 100' or block or two to get it.  Or, are you really that lazy?

The real issue isn't that the city is trying to ban food trucks (they're not), it's that they need to balance the interests of both sides.  And just like I can't open a restaurant in my single-family home, there are and will continue to be places where food trucks won't be allowed to park and do business.  Is that "unfair", anti-consumer or anti-entrepreneurial?  I don't think so, but you apparently disagree . . . .

ihatesuburbs
ihatesuburbs

Spoken like a true modern day douchebag libertarian leaning hipster fucktard. Dear christ hipsters today are worse than they were when I was younger because now they are spouting this Ayn Rand Libertarian bullshit like they believe it. The worst part is that they are doing it for the same reason that they are all jacking off all over themselves over the modern incarnation of the roach coach; because it is trendy and they just want to be different. Different just like that twat Avril Lavine the hipster fucks probably listened to when they were in high school.

stev0205
stev0205

Keep em' comin' people! I am such an idiot I seriously cannot understand basic concepts such as law! Are you overly righteous!? Arrogant!? All accepted here! Dump your little explanations of how the world works to me, the moron!

JZ71
JZ71

Rules are put in place for a reason.  That reason(s) may have changed, or even been forgotten, over time, but it/they made sense to someone(s) in power at some point in time - it's now "the law".  Enforcement is always variable - the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  If no one complains, you can get away with a lot of stuff, aka, fly uner the radar, for days, weeks, months or even years, but that still doesn't make it or you right, legally.  Conversely, if you want to get someone in trouble, you can almost always find some rule(s) that they're not following and make an issue out of it.

I really don't have a problem with either food trucks or them parking downtown or many other places.  I do have a problem when we need to legislate and enforce common courtesy.  As Monty's owner Steve stated, he was cool with the food trucks at the other end of his block, but he was not cool with one parked right in front of his door - I wouldn't be, either!  Maybe what's really needed are designated (and permitted?) parking spots for food trucks AND some bureaucrat to figure out who gets to show up where every day?

stev0205
stev0205

Ohhhhh thanks for clearing that up. I totally did not understand such a complex concept. I've got this other thing I've been wondering about I hope you can fill me in... why is the sky blue?

Carl Hess
Carl Hess

He didn't tell you to stop commenting. He told you to do something about if you actually think there's a problem. And I agree. I love the food trucks, and it'd be a shame if they were forced out of downtown, but @JZ71:disqus is right that these are the present rules and they aren't going to change themselves. 

Robin
Robin

Oh, I've already begun the fight to let the Aldermen and their cronies know how idiotic this law is. Oh, and how they should have had the testicular fortitude to actually ENFORCE the ordinance from the DAY the first food truck began hawking their 'wares' downtown. The distance is indeed an arbitrary number. I'll happily walk to 8th and Market, but in the meantime, I'll be making an unholy racket to everyone and anyone to make sure it's changed..or, ideally, repealed. It's a beautiful thing.

stev0205
stev0205

You provide a valiant public service my man. Sitting on a computer telling people on a comment board to stop commenting.

Yeags55
Yeags55

The big question is why a rule propagated by the "streets" department is making so much hay. Obviously, the streets department has no actual dog in the fight between restaurants and food carts as there main concern is, wait for it, the streets (and watching potholes get bigger over time). Therefore, my guess as to why the rule is in place is that they did not want congestion caused by both a food truck and a brick and mortar so close together in that generally somewhat busy area of downtown. Thus, the real question should not be how do we protect restaurants, because that is likely not the actual purpose of the rule. No, the question is: are food trucks creating street/traffic problems? If so, fine. Stick with the rule. If not, it is something should be looked at again.

jrw
jrw

I don't see what is unreasonable about calling a law unfair.  I may think it is petty for a business to complain about the violation of this particular law, but my real problem is with the law itself.  And yes, I have contacted my alderman. 

"Stealing customers from existing businesses?"  That makes no sense.  Any new business, mobile or not, could potentially steal customers from existing businesses.  That is competition.  And it should be fair competition.  Also, it assumes a zero sum game.  Some downtowners might not like buying sandwiches, but enjoy the pizza from Pi or the unique offerings from Cha Cha, Seoul Taco, etc.  They aren't stealing a customer -- the customer wasn't interested in available food.  Indeed, the nice thing about the trucks is that it gives consumers some additional choice that might not be able to survive on an everyday basis and permits the company's to expand their market and lessen their risk. 

With regard to distances from another restaurant, I advocate no rule.  I thought that was clear.  A geographic limitation is unreasonable. 

The other issues you raise are not unreasonable.  Sure, you can regulate where on the street someone can park for concerns of safety and the orderly flow of traffic.  Just as the downtown restaurants are allowed valet spots, you could even have designated spots for the trucks at designated lunch hours.  Nothing wrong with that.  If the trucks can't accomodate each other's schedules, then government may need to step in and establish a system, but thus far, it seems like they all play nicely together.

Your contention that they only have to move a half a block is unrealistic.  If the regulation is enforced as written, a truck cannot find a suitable spot anywhere in the concentrated areas of downtown.  Restaurants are everywhere.  (Some of them are even next to other restaurants.)  Hence why they have to move to 8th and Market, which is on the outskirts.

braoul
braoul

First of all, no food truck has ever parked in front of another restaurant! If they did that, I would hold zero respect and tolerance for them. They go where people have asked them to visit. St. Louis food trucks, were envisioned by local Chefs, Caterers, restauranteurs and foodies who hold a deep respect and love for local restaurants. Every successful district has an average of a 100' door-to-door distance from which a food truck can operate. That's linear walking distance, not magical "I can walk through walls" measuring slapped together by an intern in the streets department with google maps and MS Paint.

Second, they are not "stealing customers" from restaurants that have long lost customers by providing stale service and quality. If you take a look at restaurants that have shuttered this past year (or 2010, 2009, etc), not one was a result of a food truck. The restaurant industry has the highest failure rate of any. Plus, take an audit of the foot traffic at spots favored by food trucks. You will find an increase over this past year. People want something different. People want to patronize a friendly, passionate business. All a restaurant needs to do is step back, take a look at their business and observe what they've been missing...passion.

Third, you cannot open a restaurant in an "untapped" market. It's untapped for a reason! That's the most ignorant statement I have ever come across and I truly hope you have zero pull in society, JZ71. The East side is not a desert waiting for a mob run food truck court. It's a rundown district with corrupt officials and it's major export is strippers (or is that an import?).

By the way, in case you missed history class, our country was founded with a certain level of "anarchy." Oh, "anarchy" doesn't include a food truck parked 199' away from a B&M. Laws will change if people stand up. Some restaurants will fail. Some food trucks will fail. To succeed, you have to offer an outstanding product. Simple. Chili Mac's has lost that over the years. I wish they didn't. A great diner with an outstanding breakfast should be killing it in the morning. Why aren't they?

JZ71
JZ71

Much like driving I-70 thru St. Ann (next to Lambert Airport), you can either slow down and avoid a conversation with "the man" or you can hammer down at 70+ mph and get an invitation to court.  You may not think that the the rules make any sense, or are "fair", but you don't have the final say, the guys with the laws on their side do.

"They serve different types of customers for different reasons."  Yes and no - the only reason they're where they are downtown is because they see a business opportunity, aka stealing customers from existing businesses.  If they wanted to tap a new market, they'd park far from any potential competitors and wait for customers to materialize, places that are underserved, places like East St.Louis and MLK Blvd.  They've done that at Crestwood Court and in Tower Grove Park, but only after a lot of pre-event advertising.

I'm not being hysterical, I'm just making a point - any rule is arbitrary, so what compromise do you propose?  No rules at all?  20' from any existing business?  100'?  200'?  500'?  And who gets the spot?  The one who gets there first?  The one with a permit?  No one, because on-street parking should only be available for the customers of adjacent businesses?  The valet parking service?  A bus stop?

And if the city wanted to ban food trucks, trust me, there wouldn't be any on the streets (see Clayton).  But much like the pretzel vendors in my part of town, enforcement is only a priority when someone makes it a priority.  What do you expect the city to do?  Just look the other way?!  If you don't like the rules, I'm not the one you need to be bitching to/at.  You need to talk to the people who can actually do something, either the Board of Aldermen and/or Todd Waelterman, the head of the Streets Department - watch and learn . . . .

JZ71
JZ71

Obviously, we disagree.  The two, easiest solutions are a) change the rules and b) don't park in front of a business that complains.  Just because you're mobile doesn't give you the right to park anywhere you want AND to operate a business anywhere you damn well please.  Life ain't fair - you either play by the rules or you pay the consequences!

Like I said, I agree, 200' was and is, remains an arbitrary number.  It's also less than half a block.  If you're that good, customers will find you, no matter where you are - see Trader Joe's, Niche, Farmhaus or the Goody Goody Diner.  On-street parking is a finite resource, especially downtown, and the city has every right to regulate it and to allocate it, much like how you can't park in front of your office for 9-10 hours a day.  Bottom line, quit bitching about how "unfair" it all is, either walk that extra block or convince the aldermen and/or the experts in the Streets Department that they're all wrong and that you know best - after all, it is "All about me" isn't it?!

jrw
jrw

Well, no, there shouldn't be a distance restriction at all.  That's what makes no sense.  It is a commercial district.  Businesses exist, side by side.  Yes, even restaraunts.  No distinction should be drawn between mobile restaurants and B&M.  Any such distinctions are inherently anti-consumer. 

I don't think the rule was created because someone got bored.  I think it was implemented because bad businesses were afraid that something innovative with a superior product was threatening their existence, and instead of improving their products, they chose to call in a favor/complain to the street department to create a regulation to arbitrarily hinder the marketplace. 

B&M are hardly 24/7.  In downtown, they are usually 8/5.  The investment is not the issue -- the trucks bring products to consumers and those products are desirable.  The food products immediately surrounding Met Square are not very desirable.  In fact, they are quite boring.  It has been a welcome change to see new, fresh alternatives to sprout up there.  It doesn't mean that I have abandoned the few stores that are actually worthwhile; it just means I have some additional choices on days when I don't want the same thing.

Your slippery slope argument is silly.  Trucks should not be allowed to park on the sidewalk because that is a danger to pedestrians.  No one is asking for that.  And that has nothing to do with the geographic region.  If they were really concerned about that, they could say, you know, don't park on the sidewalk.  We would get that.  Having a truck outside of Monty's should not bother Monty's.  It is no different than Monty's being close to Jimmy John's; they should just focus on making their food and service desirable.  I also agree that it is even more egregious if they are the complainers because it was on notice that food trucks sold there before it opened.

Met Square is a convenient market because there is a large concentration of people.  They are essentially forcing everyone to 8th and Market, which is not just a couple of blocks.  I don't mind the walk (except on days like today, of course), but that's not the issue.  The issue is the food trucks, like any business, need customers.  And they rightly go where there is a high concentration of customers and where it is convenient for traffic because of the wide street.  If you are artificially creating barriers to competition and restricting access to customers, you are creating the unfair playing field.  (Admittedly, the distance is annoying when you want to carry the product back to your desk.  And more important than distance is the additional time, which ruins the convenience aspect of the food truck.)

Robin
Robin

The food trucks are not the 'next great thing'. Nor are they 'cool'. They are functional, and, in case you haven't been paying attention because you've got that goody-goody law-abiding critter too far up your hindquarters to notice, they are here to STAY.

Are you serious? Of course it's about the City banning food trucks. Do you not pay attention? Look at the other tenants in the same building as Monty's. They are POWERFUL men with very important connections to the Mayor and other local politicians. Don't be naive.

Cha Cha Chow was NOT parking on the sidewalk. They were required to park adjacent to a parking meter, just like everyone else. Stop being hysterical. They also have to pay lots of $$$ in taxes just to be a mobile food vendor. To whom? TO THE CITY! So don't start that whole thing about the restaurants paying 'more' in taxes. EVERYONE pays.

Food trucks and restaurants are apples and oranges. You can't have a 'level playing field' because it doesn't exist. Don't you get it? They serve different types of customers for different reasons. ALL of the whiny restaurants serve breakfast, and I never saw any food trucks wandering downtown to steal that business at any time.

This ordinance was not enforced, and NOW they decide to enforce it. Nice going City, Mayor, and all the rest. But be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.

As far as changing the rules, JZ71, watch and learn, pumpkin. Watch and learn.

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