Food Truck Facts:

FOOD TRUCKS PUT MONEY INTO THE LOCAL ECONOMY

Since the first food truck opened in our area in 2009, the food truck community has been investing in the local economy, creating jobs and helping to revitalize underdeveloped areas.

FOOD TRUCKS ARE GROWING INTO BRICK-AND-MORTAR BUSINESSES

Food trucks are small business incubators and growing into brick-and-mortar businesses. Many talented chefs with great concepts but without enough money to open their own restaurant opened a food truck to bring their cuisine to their communities. In our area more than 20 food truck food trucks have grown into brick-and-mortars — and nearly two dozen brick-and-mortar businesses have opened food trucks to expand into new markets. 

FOOD TRUCKS ARE CREATING JOBS

At a time when bank lending to small business has become harder to come by, food trucks are supporting and creating new jobs. In addition to working with other small businesses such as mechanics and bookkeepers and local food purveyors, the approximate 200 food truck small businesses in the DMV create nearly 1,000 full-time jobs right here in our community. 

FOOD TRUCKS ARE A GREAT USE OF PUBLIC SPACE 

Food trucks are one of the most efficient uses of public space. The same parking space that can be used by just a few in an afternoon can be used by more than 100 people having lunch from a food truck. And by bringing food directly to the people, food trucks help reduce congestion.

Food Truck Myths:

#1. Food trucks hurt the local restaurant industry: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks help draw people to restaurant and shopping areas and increase the amount of foot traffic for all surrounding businesses.

For example, in Houston restaurants have seen an increase in sales because nearby food trucks attract people to the area, prompting restaurant owners to ask for laws to make it easier for food trucks to operate.  In Washington, DC, four new brick-and-mortar restaurants have opened across the street from one of the city’s most popular food truck destinations, Farragut Square, showing that all the area’s businesses are benefiting from the increased foot traffic that food trucks draw.

Food trucks are also serving as incubators for brick-and-mortar restaurants, and to date in our area more than one dozen food truck food trucks have grown into brick-and-mortar locations.

Plus a growing number of brick-and-mortar restaurants are opening food trucks of their own because they are a great way to market and expand their businesses.

#2. Food trucks are unsanitary: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks are inspected by the Department of Health several times a year and must follow all the same rules that a brick-and-mortar restaurant does. Food trucks are miniature, health department-approved commercial kitchens on wheels complete with a three-compartment sink, hand sink and fire-suppression system. In addition, food trucks operate from commercial brick-and-mortar kitchens that are also regularly inspected by the health department.

 #3. Food trucks are unregulated: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks are heavily regulated. In Washington for example, food trucks are first approved by the Factory Assembled Structures Department of Labor & Industry, licensed by the state and each city and must be inspected by the Department of Health twice annually and at every special event. Food truck employees must also study and pass an exam to learn the best food safety practices.  Food trucks must also pass an inspection by the fire marshal.

#4. Food trucks don’t pay taxes: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks pay all the same business and payroll taxes that brick-and-mortar restaurants pay and generate tax revenue for cities.

 #5. Food trucks are a threat to public safety: FALSE

FACT: Well-used streets are safe streets, and food trucks help draw people to restaurant and shopping centers and contribute to an area’s vibrancy. And because food truck owners are outside they become familiar with an area’s routines and regular residents and workers, becoming another set of eyes on the street to recognize unusual activity.

#6. Food trucks are a burden on public space: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks are one of the most efficient uses of public space. The same parking space that can be used by just a few in an afternoon can be used by more than 100 people having lunch from a food truck. And by bringing food directly to the people, food trucks help reduce congestion.

#7. Food trucks leave their trash behind: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks take their trash with them. Food trucks operate out of health department-approved commercial brick-and-mortar kitchens where they prepare recipes, receive deliveries and clean and dispose of trash.

#8. Food trucks create harmful sidewalk congestion: FALSE

FACT: People instinctively form single file lines at food trucks alongside the edge or a sidewalk to allow others to pass by. There is no evidence that food trucks prevent pedestrians from walking down a sidewalk.

#9. Food trucks have an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar restaurants: FALSE

FACT: Food trucks have lower costs than brick-and-mortar restaurants, but they also have a fraction of the amount of sales. Because food trucks operate just a few hours a day they serve a fraction of the amount of customers of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which is open all day. Brick-and-mortar restaurants also have larger menus, heated dining rooms, more storage space, and can stay open in most all weather conditions.   

#10. Running a food truck is an easy way to get rich quick.

FACT: Just like running a brick-and-mortar restaurant, running a food truck is extremely hard work with narrow profit margins. But for food truck owners, just like brick-and-mortar restaurant owners, the reward of creating a business and sharing the food you love with people makes it all worth it!

Other Information & City Guidance on Food Trucks

Food Truck Freedom - How to Build Better Food Truck Laws in Your City and other content above was provided by the Institute for Justice and their report titled: Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks.

Harvard's Ash Center, wrote about the challenge cities face in” On the Go - Insights into Food Truck Regulations in US Cities.”

Food trucks typically are found to complement brick and mortar restaurants by creating more dining options at more times, transforming a place into a dining destination. In addition, the line between food truck and brick and mortar operators is blurring. The National Restaurant Association, for example, offers articles entitled both “Parking your business: From food truck to brick-and-mortar and “Going mobile”: From brick-and-mortar to food truck.