Here's some classic protectionism for those who are fans of the genre:
From the Washington City Paper:
If anyone can understand the tension between brick-and-mortar restaurants and the mobile army of food trucks that has stormed D.C. in the past year, it’s Stephan Boillon. After he lost his job at Dino in Cleveland Park in 2008, the veteran chef sought to launch an upscale sandwich shop on Connecticut Avenue NW. His plan was to offer only cold sandwiches, which would enable him to build a restaurant with no burners, no oven, and no deep fryers.
But even Boillon’s stripped-down concept was going to cost $750,000 before the doors opened—a figure that didn’t include rent, utilities, insurance, advertising, taxes, labor, association fees, or any of the other overhead it takes to operate a business in a neighborhood that expects a lot from its entrepreneurs.
So with credit tight and investment money scarce, Boillon found a cheaper way into the gourmet sandwich business: a food truck.
For $50,000, one-fifteenth of the price to build his brick-and-mortar concept, Boillon started El Floridano, his rolling unit dedicated to home-made roast-pork Cubans and other bread-driven bites. Boillon had traded a restaurant’s higher profit margin for a truck’s lower start-up costs.
If only supply-and-demand economics were so easy. The sudden appearance of gourmet food trucks that delighted so many lunch-hour consumers simultaneously horrified the established restaurant community—a deep-pocketed, politically wired bunch.
Now, like in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and every other city where mobile vendors represent new competition, the District’s inline businesses are turning to the legislative process to ease their pain. Thus when it comes to the street-food options, you may not have the ultimate say. Lawyers, lobbyists, social-media activists, councilmembers, and business owners are all working the levers of power to determine what rolls your way for lunch.
And here’s the unique D.C. twist to this traditional battle between the rolling and stationary food providers: The old-school street carts, and the powerful depot owners who represent them, don’t care much for these four-wheeled foodies, either.
In the battle for Washington’s food dollars, the mobile vendors have public opinion—and 47,000 Twitter followers—on their side. But their competitors have what might be a more powerful weapon: money.
Well-financed entities like the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the Dupont Circle Merchants and Professionals Association, and the Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington have all submitted proposals asking the D.C. Council to put new restrictions on trucks. Some of the proposals are downright draconian.
Go here to read the proposals, all of which are designed to keep consumers from getting what they want.
Fort Worth has businesses doing the same thing but at a lower level. In Cowtown, it's usually the food truck guys who are trying to stifle the competitors.
Several years ago at Jukt Micronics, I had a Roach Coach operator complain to me about the Mexican dude selling tamales from a bicycle to my employees (which they were joyfully purchasing instead of buying the nuclear winter-proof gunk from her Roach Coach). She wanted me to throw the bicyclist out of the parking lot because he didn't have a Food Handler's Permit, and no one knew what he was putting in those tamales.
This confrontation took place before my political awakening, but I already had enough sense to ridicule the notion that a government-issued permit was enough to purify the contents of the bicycle tamale bin or the preservative-laden cholesterol bombs in her van.
I don't remember how that worked itself out. But speaking of illegal tamales....
Go here for a much later rant about illegal tamales being sold outside another Jukt Micronics location. Something about businesses and regulators trying to stifle the tamale market gets me fired up.
Here's a video about the D.C. Roach Coach food truck operators.
I do love me some homemade tamales. A fresh coat of Whitening to The Agitator for the link.