Tag Archives: Brick and mortar business

When There are No Laws, It’s the Wild West

22 Aug

This past weekend, the battle between food trucks and a small handful of restaurants in Buffalo grew more acute, and more ridiculous.

Two local restaurants – Taki’s on Court Street, and the Waterline at the Waterfront Village have gone out of their way to affirmatively call city government and thwart the food trucks’ ability to set up in locations where they’ve been invited to set up.

The Roaming Buffalo truck sets up at the corner of Court and Pearl at the invitation of the Convention Center on occasional weekdays. A few picnic tables have been set up at that corner. R ‘ n R BBQ Truck and Where’s Lloyd set up occasionally in the parking lot of the Waterfront Village, at the invitation of the employees of Synacor, a tenant in that complex.

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[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RoamingBuffalo1/status/104930418792476673″%5D

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So, the Waterline is worried that it loses its monopoly on food service for 2 hours a day, a couple of days a week, and Taki’s for some reason has it in its head that “food” competes with “food”, rather than the notion that sit-down diner fare isn’t the same as food truck burgers, dogs, and beef on weck.

All of this is a follow-up to this story, with a counter-story written by local business advisor Tony Maggiotto, Jr.

The brick and mortar restaurants had complained that a proposed law, which would have required food trucks to set up outside a 100′ radius of existing, operating kitchens would lead to a “wild west” mentality. Now that that law has been tabled until the Common Council returns to work, we have a wild west mentality being practiced by anti-competitive brick & mortar restaurants. Taki’s, the Waterline, ETS, Jim’s Steakout, and Just Pizza have gone out of their way to tightly restrict how the food trucks can operate.

The tenants at the Waterfront Village complex didn’t sign an exclusivity agreement with the Waterline, which would prohibit them from inviting outside food onto the premises. If the Roaming Buffalo’s mounting of the sidewalk to reach its corner at Court Street Plaza is deemed illegal, then every setup at Buffalo Place (for instance, the farmer’s market on Main Street) is illegal, as well.

The wild west mentality comes when established brick and mortar restaurants flex political muscle to ensure that the food trucks can’t do business in the city – whether that be through thwarting proposed legislation, or demanding that the city prohibit them from competing with them because of, for instance, months’ worth of safe sidewalk-mounting.

Ain’t room enough for the two of y’all?

The food trucks have an advantage? Which advantage?

  • The advantage they have at only being able to set up for a couple of hours at a time?
  • The advantage they have regarding no set rules, regulations, or laws, which leave their businesses subject to the whims of anti-competitive councilmembers and restaurants?
  • The advantage they have of not being in the same place each day?
  • The advantage they have in which people have to take affirmative steps to find out where the trucks will be set up?
  • The advantage they have of not having to lock and secure a $80,000 truck every night?
  • The advantage they have of having to rent an inspected food prep kitchen, in addition to a secure truck parking location?
  • The advantage they have of serving food to people unprotected by the elements?
  • The advantage they have of not having a seating area for customers to use while eating?

The food trucks and the complaining restaurants aren’t the same thing. They are similar only in that they serve food to paying customers.

I have gone out of my way to hunt down Lloyd’s at the Waterfront Village because I enjoy my $5.50 taco lunch. The Waterline’s salads and sandwiches are expensive and haven’t merited a special trip. I’ll now go out of my way to avoid Taki’s because, seriously – how many Greek diners does one region need? But I’ll especially avoid them because they have found that their product is not competitive when faced with burgers or tacos served out of a Grumman truck, and instead of stepping it up or dropping their prices, they’re whining to mommy and shutting down the wheeled interlopers.

Support your local food truck.

Where’s Lloyd (tacos)

The Whole Hog (BBQ)

R ‘n R BBQ

Roaming Buffalo (Buffalo favorites)

Coming soon is Fork on the Road (Vietnamese street food)