St. Paul restaurant owners say food trucks are eating profits

Categories: Street Food

Food Truck Map.png
Brent Schoonover
St. Paul restaurants vs. food trucks.
When the city of Minneapolis was creating its food truck policy, several restaurant owners spoke out against it, saying the competition was unfair.

Now that food trucks have come out in full force in downtown St. Paul, the Pioneer Press has found several frustrated restaurant owners.

Mario Gambino, owner of Andreas Pizza in Lowertown, reportedly screamed at the drivers of a cupcake truck parked in front of his restaurant for more than two hours. He says that enforcement of time limits has been lax and that the trucks take away business, take up parking spaces, and the generators make too much noise.

As of June, the Pioneer Press says, 125 food trucks and carts were licensed to operate in St. Paul. St. Paul has more relaxed laws about food trucks than Minneapolis. Trucks can park wherever spots are available, according to city statutes, as long as they pay the meter fee--and don't overstay the time limit.

The trucks do provide revenue for the city: a couple hundred bucks for a license fee, plus a $92 fee to hood five meters for each participant in the food truck court. But those numbers pale in comparison the to property taxes, SAC charges, etc. paid by bricks-and-mortar restaurants.

Do you think food trucks are unfairly taking business away from restaurants, or are there two different groups of customers? When you dine at a food truck, are you downgrading from what would have been a seated lunch, or upgrading from a brown bag?

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16 comments
Will
Will

Brick & mortar restaurants need to realize that food truck owner/ operators have to pay taxes and rent just they do. Sure, the food is served and prepared on a truck, but where is it delivered to? Where does the prep take place at? Any food truck operating in the state is required to have commercial kitchen that it is based out and not only does the truck get inspected, so does that kitchen. Additionally, in larger food truck cities, some of the brick and mortar restaurants have begun to realize that the truck bring business to their door & it is in their best interest to partner with a truck instead of shoo it (and it customers) away. By the way, I work in St Paul at a large business but having checking out the trucks for over a year now.

James Benson
James Benson

Ha!!  These comments read like they are from food truck operators. Just ridiculous, some of them-- like from Kate, who must have her food truck confused with a gourmet restaurant.

Really, Kate...nobody talks the way you write unless they are doing some schmaltzy promo:

 "Freshly made, inexpensive, locally sourced to a fine art and offered with a smile. The creations are unique, flavorful and undeniably fresh"

That's too much....seriously, it's a food truck, and you are trying to make the case that the truck is a better place to prepare a meal than a restaurant kitchen. Puhhhllleeezzz...

Restaurant owners have major investment in their business. Now, along comes some food truck to park out front and hurt their business. Today it might be cupcakes-- tomorrow it might be pizza. And restaurant owners have employees, and they may lose their jobs due to this.

Food trucks parked outside of restaurants are leeching off of the restaurant's years of building a customer base, as well as good will. When the food trucks cause the restaurants to close, many will be financially harmed, and others are not going to put another restaurant at that location.

It is an unfair situation,and it will be the city and its residents that end up losing in this. Those who thought this up show very little foresight.

Nice job of spamming the comments section, all you food truck owners.

sevnofnyn
sevnofnyn

I was just in Portland, OR earlier this week and admiring all the interesting food truck/cart options and sad that we don't have more of that in the Twin Cities- not just located in downtown areas. I do agree that generators are loud and obnoxious, often ruining the ambience of eating outside, so we need some awesome innovators to come up with affordable quiet generators :)!

Bigriverpizza
Bigriverpizza

Mobile Food and Food vendors can work together!  Big River Pizza and Wabasha Street Deli will be selling local wood fired slices tomorrow8/10 from 11-1 at Wbasha deli.  32 Fillmore Ave E.  Local restaurants and mobile food vendors can work together.......support both local food and and bussiness.

Kate
Kate

The popularity of food trucks can't be denied, but the truth is harsh to any restaurant owner; they offer better food, hands down. Freshly made, inexpensive, locally sourced to a fine art and offered with a smile. The creations are unique, flavorful and undeniably fresh. I can't stress that aspect enough. Only a handful of restaurants, ones that offer the same fare and fanatically sourced goods can compare. Another terrific aspect of it? You get to be outside, enjoying your phenomenal food in the bright sunshine of our oh so elusive summer. Plus they're small local businesses (again, serving locally sourced food) and who doesn't like to support a small local business?

So to anyone complaining that they're taking away your revenue- I strongly suggest you up the ante in your establishment. Source your meats from a local farmer; shop the farmers market every day in search of the freshest ingredients, stir up your creative brain and make food worth knocking down your doors to get. The people of the Twin Cities aren't stupid. If your food always arrives in a long line truck from a warehouse and gets pulled from a cardboard box, you might want to consider toning down your complaints.

Nick
Nick

"When the city of Minneapolis was creating its food truck policy, several restaurant owners spoke out against it, saying the competition was unfair."Then get a truck and stop complaining. 

Vinotintojoe
Vinotintojoe

Mario, the food trucks are not taking away from your business.  The quality of your pizza is taking away from your business.

Erica
Erica

It is laughable that Mario Gambino claims that a cupcake truck would generate so much noise compared to its larger predecessors that serves hot food.Has it ever occured to those restaurant owners that maybe loss of business and revenue might have something to do with oh, say the economy? People are still losing their homes and jobs or have been unable to find a full time job with a liveable income. I do think there is plenty of room for both restaurants and food trucks to exist. I am really enjoying the fare offered at food trucks. It is a matter of choice and personal preference.

Will
Will

James, I can see where someone might think that these postings are only from the truck owner/ operators. Please do research before flaming. Kate is actually a well-known food-writer/ blogger. She does not own or operate a food truck. If the city of St Paul had thought it was a lose-lose for anyone - the residents, the business owners or the food truck operators - they might have taken the approach Mpls has towards trucks. They haven't because there are other cities where trucks are operating in this country and St Paul has done its research into how the trucks affect the city's economic climate.

Finally, if today it's cupcakes & tomorrow it's pizza - so what? Part of what makes this a great country to live is free enterprise and great competition! Would you want to be stuck with buying all of stuff at only Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, some other store [you fill in the blank]? You might not like one, but you have the choice to go elsewhere - that is one thing food trucks offer - freedom of choice to the customer.

Erin
Erin

James, I don't think making assumptions about individual commentors is a convincing way to make your point. I'm just a lowly customer and resident of St. Paul, not a food truck OR restaurant owner or employee, and I heartily applaud the infusion of food trucks in Mpls and St. Paul.

" "Freshly made, inexpensive, locally sourced to a fine art and offered with a smile. The creations are unique, flavorful and undeniably fresh"That's too much....seriously, it's a food truck, and you are trying to make the case that the truck is a better place to prepare a meal than a restaurant kitchen. Puhhhllleeezzz..."

Sure, some food trucks are awful. But there are a growing number that are good. Really good. U don't find that comment particularly schmaltzy. But then, by your standards, I guess being of that opinion makes me as good as a food truck owner. 

Linda
Linda

James, I clicked on your name, it seems you rag to everyone about everything. The food truck owners are not the people writing on this board. We are St. Paul city residents who enjoy the fresh wonderful foods available from these Chefs and yes many of them are bonified chefs. You probably don't know much about our city or our climate. Maybe you should write about your California city where your comments would make a difference.

Raun Lauterbach
Raun Lauterbach

Well said, Kate.  Any business owner, when faced with declining sales needs to look inward to find a solution rather than sending blame outward.  The example in this article is absurd.  I'm not trading pizza for a cupcake, although I might buy from both if they both have quality food at a good price.

MrE85
MrE85

No cupcake truck could steer me away from a good pizza. No amount of screaming will get me to buy a poor pie.

Will
Will

If Mario was a saavy business owner, he would look into creating a partnership with the Cupcake Togo truck instead of scaring them away like he has. He doesn't offer dessert (if I recall) & they don't have a loud generator. So if a customer brought a receipt from his pizza shop to the truck, they could get a discount and vice versa. This would draw business and customers to both places & it's a win-win for them & everyone who lives and works in St Paul.

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