The Owl, a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Greenville, S.C., will hold a “peaceful protest” against the city’s newly proposed restrictions on food trucks. Greenville’s new ordinance would ban food trucks from at least 250 feet of any brick-and-mortar restaurant. If it passes, that would lead to a de facto ban on mobile cuisine in downtown Greenville’s Central Business District.
Other proposed regulations prohibit vending on city-owned property, like parks and plazas, unless it is for an approved event. In addition, food trucks could only sell on private property and would have to pay both a $500 annual permit fee plus a $50 temporary permit fee for each spot on which they vend. On top of that, the task force set up by Greenville City Council to come up with these restrictions included “business leaders, city leaders and restaurant representatives [but] did not include members of the food truck community.”
In response, The Owl’s owner Aaron Manter announced a “food truck revolution” to be held on Wednesday “as a sign of peaceful protest against the new food truck regulations. We feel they are too restrictive and no one currently involved with the trucks was consulted.” Two food trucks, Neue Southern Food Truck and Asada, will vend in The Owl’s parking lot that night.
Neue opened for business in Greenville back in September 2012. Their latest menu offers lamb pita, Chinese long doughnuts, and Vietnamese sandwiches stuffed with pork meatballs and sriracha. Meanwhile, Asada features Latin cuisine, inspired by San Francisco’s Mission District. Speaking to a local news station, Aaron called his food truck rally, “a great show of solidarity” and hopes “you will come out to show your support for these really cool businesses.”
This isn’t the first time brick-and-mortar restaurants have shown salivating solidarity with food trucks. George Harris, the owner of a chic Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas, has advocated for street food freedom. In an October 2012 op-ed, he criticized a proposed protectionist proximity restriction: “Banning food trucks from opening near a brick-and-mortar would be like McDonald’s trying to ban Burger King.” Plus, as the Institute for Justice has shown in its report, Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks, many brick-and-mortar owners support food trucks because they increase foot traffic and act as an incubator for a new culinary proof of concept.
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— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice