Do food trucks hurt skyway restaurants? Downtown Food Committee to address the issue

vellee-deli-CR brian-garrity-x560.jpg
Brian Garrity
Skyway retailers are calling a meeting tomorrow to discuss whether food trucks are given an unfair advantage
Are the food trucks that Minneapolis diners seem to love so much causing undo harm to existing businesses? Are they given an unfair competitive advantage by the state that traditional brick-and-mortars can't compete against? A group referring to itself as the Downtown Food Committee seems to think so. This Wednesday it will be holding a meeting open to all downtown retailers to discuss the issue.

The group is raising the idea of whether food trucks have created a competitive environment in which they are unable to effectively compete and are seeking ways to "improve the food truck ordinance so it works better for the residents, workers, food truck owners, and the restaurant owners in downtown Minneapolis," according to the flier they put out for Wednesday's event.

Meeting flyer for 1-23-13.jpg
Courtesy of the Downtown Food Committee
The flyer for Wednesday's Food Truck discussion; contact info has been redacted.
It would appear that the movement to rethink how the food trucks are allowed to operate in downtown Minneapolis is being spearheaded by D. Brian's Deli founder Doug Sams. D. Brian's is located in the skyway system at the intersection of Eighth & Nicollet, about a block away from the gathering of food trucks. Sams has been vocal about his concerns over food trucks but has repeatedly stated that he's not anti-food truck, but that he instead wants to find a way in which the system can work for everybody.

The event flyer lists several bullet-pointed topics that will be covered during the meeting. An open discussion will be held in regard to the amount of business that's allegedly been lost due to the emergence of the trucks, and it another session the committee will forecast what will happen in the coming summer if nothing changes.

The group hosting the meeting also provided us with a copy of its "impact statement," which asks business owners to share the "impact" that food trucks have had on their businesses. The introduction to the statement reads, "In order to determine the impact on downtown and skyway restaurants caused by the concentration of food trucks along Marquette Ave., please provide some information that compares your sales and wages paid in 2012 with 2011. This could be as simple as the appearance of less customers; however, actual numbers or financial information are much more useful."

The founders of the Downtown Food Committee provided us with the documentation for the meeting, but they declined to give statements before the event.

What do you think about the issue? Do you frequent skyway restaurants less now that food trucks have become easily accessible, and if so, why? We'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.



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24 comments
Mufo Rommney Zomby
Mufo Rommney Zomby

just better food.. skyway gets old .. fun to enjoy the air and smells

mwinter87
mwinter87

If the owner would rather complain about the emergance of superior competition and form a self-appointed "Downtown Food Committee" in an attempt to reduce that competition, rather than address their own lackluster product, good riddance!

JCVN
JCVN

Sounds like Skyway lunch spots are learning they can't get away with the bland generic, crap they were spewing out for decades (with a few notable exceptions, of course). This is one case where the free market will force them to adapt or die, benefiting the public. 

jason.m.whittemore
jason.m.whittemore

D.Brian's sells what every other deli type store does and to be honest I've never heard of this store.  I took some time to look at his menu.   BORING...and they wonder why people would rather get food from the food trucks.   With so many choices DT for food I would probably never frequent his type of establishment..now I can say I will never frequent his establishment.

David St Michael
David St Michael

Encourage businesses. Why the hate against food trucks? Bizarre and very short sighted.

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

if people are going outside to a food truck in the dead of winter, its because most skyway food is nasty.

Branden Strot
Branden Strot

maybe your business wouldnt be suffering if your food was good, or your prices were reasonable.

Tom Bettendorf
Tom Bettendorf

Last time I checked this wa a free market economy!

Kyle Tilton
Kyle Tilton

While there are a few really good skyway places to eat, most of them take the captive audience approach to there food. Not to mention jack up the prices.

jagersont
jagersont

So your business declines and it is the competitions fault? Is'nt that free market society? I know the arguement about cost of a retail spcae over the cost of a "food truck" has been made and will continue to be made. That is a two way arguement though, retail space, larger kitchen, climate controlled customer space, inside seating. Food truck, weather (good and bad), no seating, less hours open, small prep / kithcen.

Competition either makes you better or closes your doors. It is how you react to challenge that determines your success or failure.

Brad Benson
Brad Benson

The cost of rent hurts restraunts in the skyway.

Jamie Radel
Jamie Radel

I think it shows that people are willing to come out of the skyway, and that first floor retail and services in downtown Minneapolis is viable. The city should require first floor retail uses for any building that wants to have second-floor retail.

Erica Anderson
Erica Anderson

I love food trucks because of the diversity & freshness of the food, which the skyway eateries lacks. The guy from D'Brians needs to put on his big boy pants and learn to make better food and stop whining.

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

Sounds like we have the makings of a foodie "Thunderdome" match.

Wesley Anderson
Wesley Anderson

I think the food truck laws should become more relaxed, so the trucks can spread out more. There is an advantage to food trucks in the warmer months, and an advantage to brick and mortar in the colder. Maybe food trucks are serving up better food faster. maybe people want a good meal with out sitting in, or taking an elevator. There are many factors but do not make it harder for people to bring food to a city that loves it.

Nick Hammer
Nick Hammer

I think they should allow the food trucks in the skyway personally.

Charles D. Rhoden III
Charles D. Rhoden III

It's business - let it do what it will do. If restaurants are getting killed by food trucks, it is because they are not focusing on what makes food trucks appealing. It's sad to see local businesses competing and then crying foul.

Nathan David Teegarden
Nathan David Teegarden

Seems to me the skyways would be more comfortable in the winter and summer months, so if people are going outside for food, it's probably because the food is better.

Brie MacDougall
Brie MacDougall

If it was that big of a deal then wouldn't they just move into a food truck? I would think anyone who can afford the rent in the skyway can set-up a food truck with ease.

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Not on a freezing cold day like today!

PublicHair
PublicHair

What needs to be changed is the movement of all the food trucks located all in one place (Marquette Ave). That defeats one of the major draws of mobile food trucks, the fact that they can spring up anywhere at any time. When you look at the great food-truck-friendly cities around the country (Portland, Austin, LA, NYC, D.C.) you'll notice that the reason they have such a great food truck environment is because they're all over the place, not just one street.

bkmn
bkmn

I agree with jason, why are there lines at some of the food trucks?  Because they spend the time and care to make damn tasty food.  If Mr. Sams could move beyond his Sysco inspired menu he might increase his customer base.

jason.m.whittemore
jason.m.whittemore

This is silly.  If your food is good people will come... A Free enterprise is an amazing thing.

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