Food trucks have become a favorite for Las Vegans looking for a gourmet lunch or a late night bite. The popularity of food trucks in Las Vegas has even led to the creation of a monthly festival dedicated to tacos, chicken wings and a plethora of other culinary treats on wheels. But, despite their popularity, some restaurant owners say the trucks are drawing business away from brick-and-mortar establishments. The Las Vegas City Council is weighing whether or not to impose a ban on food trucks operating within a certain distance from existing restaurants. So where do food trucks fit in? We'll explore the debate.
GUESTS Rick Truesdell, Planning Commissioner, City of Las Vegas Wes Myles, owner, The Arts Factory and Bar + Bistro Colin Fukunaga, owner, Fukuburger food truck Bert Gall, Senior Attorney, The Institute for Justice
As a native Pacific Northwesterner transplant, I'm surprised to see such a matter so hotly contested. Food trucks and brick and mortar establishments not only can co-exist--and flourish--in close proximity to one another, but complement each other as well. I urge detractors of food-truck-ery to look closely at cities like Portland, OR (or any substantially populated city in the PNW for that matter--and I speak not out of a sense of regional superiority, as I haven't lived in other regions of the US, but I can attest to food cart culture having been and continuing to be a burgeoning part of downtown life back 'home' for years now). Portland has received much press for being an up-and-coming 'foodie' haven, with world-class upscale restaurants--as well as more food carts than I've ever seen anywhere else. Both appeal to different (and sometimes shared) urban demographics, allowing for a more diverse cross section of urban culture to emerge--food carts appeal to people who are walking around (few people drive across the city to go to a single food cart, but will for a brick and mortar establishment), exploring what the area has to offer. Sam –Aug 14, 2012 21:56:50 PM
I think there is an easier solution to this issue than 300 ft barriers. I recently went to Austin, tx where there was a designated area for the food trucks. I found this solution to actually benefit the trucks and local resturants. It becomes a sort of outdoor food court which I think gives certain demographics a greater option when on a budget for a snack or meal. To comparison quality of food trucks verses resturants is an unfair comparison or at least one that would not add up in the end, each offer their own bennifits. Ashley Beatty –Aug 14, 2012 21:39:36 PM
To suggest that certain government-favored stores (sit-down restaurants) should have some legal claim on the area and customers near their store is beyond ridiculous. If this obviously silly and unjust rule were applied uniformly, shoe stores and clothing stores wouldn't be able to congregate in malls. Nor would we have large "auto malls" featuring different brands. Nor multiple tile stores in light industrial areas. Nor supermarkets on opposite corners. Indeed, there is a vibrant market for all of this adjacent variety, just as there are people who would patronize food trucks, and people who would rather sit down. And, frankly, I'm thinking that the food truck operator is the more savvy businessman, as lower overhead and mobility seem to me great advantages. Remember, the sit-down restaurant owner *chose* to open that type of business in that location. What's next, taxpayer subsidies to restaurant owners who don't do well because they chose a bad location, of offer bad food?Tom Hurst –Aug 14, 2012 14:06:31 PM
The commentator on the telephone who indicates that "government should not be involved in picking winners and losers" is the libertarian who believes that government should not be involved in any form of control. I believe that he is a lawyer. I do not think that he would want anyone to become a lawyer without passing the bar and obtaining the licensure necessary. It all depends whos' ox is being gored. Rules and regulations i.e. government are a necessary evil.
Will Schroeder –Aug 14, 2012 10:38:34 AM
Food trucks overhead is nil in comparison with the burden that the restaurants share. I'm not saying their costs / revenue are the issue, but if you ran a business and held an event at that business, and at your event your competitor started selling right in the middle of your event - it's just wrong. You paid for advertising, entertainment, food and etc. For an interloper to capitalize on your investment is NOT the American way. At events and venues you have contracts with food companies, you have to honor those contracts and they are non-compete contracts. You are breaking contracts if you allow a food cart there.Annette –Aug 14, 2012 10:32:10 AM
Commenting on the food truck issue.
Brick and mortar restaurants are often less than 300 ft from each other. How is a food truck being next to one any different?Jessie –Aug 14, 2012 10:22:45 AM
There's a concept in economics called "gravity". The more of a certain kind of business in one area, the more people will come, because there are more choices. So, you see fast food places on all four corners and other restaurants behind them. Maybe in front of is too close, but 300 feet away may be bad for both the restaurant and the food truck.Polly –Aug 14, 2012 10:21:43 AM