Food Trucks Get Booted


What self-respecting (and/or self-hating yet hungry) hipster wouldn't want a truck full of fresh made "chicken and biscuits, grass-fed beef burgers and apple cardamom pie" parked on a nearby corner? After Day 47 of (delicious) Potbelly Sandwiches, such offerings sound downright miraculous to the staff of Reason D.C. But the new wave of food trucks surging into the Virginia/D.C. area aren't having an easy time of it.

[Derek] Luhowiak, 33, submitted his mobile kitchen [in his food truck Local SixFortySeven, which serves the menu listed above] for a health inspection and bought a business license, which he believed covered him anywhere in Virginia within a day's drive of his home base. But bureaucratic woes have plagued Local SixFortySeven at almost every stop.

At a weekly farmers market at George Mason University, he was kicked out after food service giant Sodexo, which has a catering contract with the school, complained. At Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, where Local SixFortySeven earns almost 50 percent of its revenue, concern that the truck violated rural agricultural zoning rules threatened to halt its operation there in October. In Winchester, where Luhowiak had successfully set up at the weekly farmers market since June, a local official suddenly informed him on Nov. 17 that he was required to obtain another license from the city and pay tax on his income.

That was Luhowiak's last week at the Winchester market.

And this isn't—to paraphrase Reason's own Radley Balko—an isolated incident. The wonder twins of (relatively) big business and big government combine everywhere ("Form of…red tape!). The food cart mecca of the U.S., California, is also the most tangled in tape. In Salinas, local restaurateurs conspire to drive taco trucks out. Trucks in Los Angeles grappled with a 30 minute parking limit. San Juan County, Washington, food carts must get permission from their local bricks-and-mortar competitors to open for business. And today's Washington Post article chronicling the vendors' troubles in the D.C. area is fantastic and depressing, read the whole thing here.

And now: Bacon dogs!