The *other side* of the Food Truck argument... [DTW]
I thought this column was certainly more interesting than not. Thoughts?
I'll keep mine to myself for the time being, but I'll weigh in eventually. I want to stir up the pot here, not muddy the waters with my own thoughts yet.
I can see why businesses would be upset. You spend all kinds of money to open up in a neighborhood and then someone can just come park outside your business and undercut you. People claim free enterprise but its not a level playing field. Businesses that have brick and mortar stores pay taxes (either directly or indirectly) that pay for streets and sidewalk maintennce, snow plowing, etc and then someone who doesn't pay property taxes just comes and uses that space for free (or a nominal fee).
Yes. But. Paying taxes and other brick+mortar overhead does not equal patrons. In no case I know of (and that's easy for now, as there are so few Food Trucks around metro Detroit) is the mobile vendor selling anything similar to what's available from the 4 or 5 nearest brick+mortars.
Based on typical price point and quickness of service, the local Subway outlets are about the only ones who might have some cause to complain. If their food were the same. Which it is not.
For me and for many of my co-workers, the real choice is between going out adventuring somewhere (Food Trucks, ethnic markets, etc) vs grabbing Lean Cuisine from our stash in the departmental freezer, microwaving, and eating at our desks. Or bringing interesting leftovers from home, as I did today. If I had wanted to go eat lunch at the brick+mortar restaurants around here, I'd have been doing it all along. But I haven't.
The restaurant crying the loudest about the Food Truck "unfair competition" in Detroit is a bar serving drinks and burgers mostly. The do offer a couple grilled chicken sandwich variations for $6+, but the brick+mortar place up the street that eveyone loves sells wonderful, huge, yummy chicken shawarmas for $4.50. And they provide lightning-quick carry-out service, plus inexpensive delivery. Just for one b+m to b+m comparison.
So it comes down to this: I don't want to take the time or spend the money (+tax, +tip) to go sit down somewhere and have a drink and a burger at lunch. I'm just NOT a potential customer for that place.
Furthermore, two of the major employers in that neighborhood have in-house dining rooms for staff, offering the employment perks of convenience and not-for-profit pricing. That might also be considered unfair competition if these were apples-to-apples comparisons-- which they're not.
I find it interesting that the so-called bad guy in the article is described as being a resident of Macomb Township while the good guys are from Lafayette Park. What difference does it make? They're both bringing money into the city. I can't say I'm surprised but I do find it sad that this "city versus the suburbs" mentality still exists in a city that can use all the help it can get.
I found it laughable that the author stated that Checker had only 10 customers in for lunch last week -- in an attempt to imply that Dago Joe's is taking customers away from Checker -- without stating how many lunch customers Checker had BEFORE Dago Joe's appeared. Although it's an "opinion" piece, it comes across more as an advertisement for Checker.
What I think is so sad about this Checker vs. Dago Joe's situation, though, is that it's pitting local business against local business. And the article attempts to rally the public behind one side of the battle. Wouldn't all of these people's (by "people", I mean the businesses, the writer of the article, anyone who takes a side on this issue) time be better spent working together to improve the laws/regulations regarding food vending in the city?!?! This kind of infighting is why the economic and legal/regulatory system in the city is so poor.
While I understand the concerns of the B&M places but the simple facts are these. This is a free enterprise system. People should be allowed to operate a business out of a building, a truck, a wagon or a cardboard box. So long as they adhere to health and building codes.
Food trucks offer something that B&M places don't. B&M places offer something trucks don't. Like seating. Let the market dictate.
This is kinda like the parking lot owner trying to ban parking meters on the street in front of his lot.
I find the apathy to the economic situation faced by an old stalwart to new, MIGRANT, competition deeply disturbing. We should create a government task force to study the situation and if need be reinstitute 3 martini lunches for government workers, who seem to be the only workers in that part of town. The bricks and mortar are the cornerstone of our economy and must be saved. These drive by night eateries have no place in our cultural history and we should immediately notify Homeland Security as they may be the camel's nose poking itself into the tent of our not so fair city.
Competition. Ask the opinion of your neighborhood blacksmith and local toy store.
Your post strikes a kind of perfect balance in tone wherein I, honest-to-God, can't tell whether you're being witheringly sarcastic or just going for dramatic effect while making an earnest point.
OTOH, I've been awake for a very long time now, so that might be pushing my reading comprehension towards tone-deaf.
Didn't see anything too compelling in the article. Brick and mortar owners lose business to new brick and mortar restaurants too - that doesn't mean they should be able to stop a prospective restaurant from opening. Of course, the overhead is lower with a food truck than a b&m restaurant. The restaurant owner quoted in the article calls that 'unfair' whereas I call that 'economics.' Effective and efficient business models are rewarded, while less efficient or overextended models lose business. What's wrong with that? I'm hoping that the businesses that are even more worried are the McD's and Taco Bells of the world - trucks offer better (often), more varied food with similar speed and convenience.
There's clearly a demand for food trucks. Now if we could just get rid of some of the red tape and local protectionism and make our cities better places to eat...
its all about the food...could care less about buildings, taxes, fees, and red tape. if your restaurant has served the same crap for 30 years and all your customers have died off and you can't compete with a more exciting new product next door, then don't complain. I don't understand this detroit food scene with all these people raging about nostalgia...as an outside, i can't taste nostalgia.
I'd go with the more innovative, creative, and delicious menu any day of the week.
Re: cowboy and gan911: *applause, applause*
While I understand that a local reporter would try to drum up sympathy for a local establishment, the fact remains: the times, they are a'changin...again. What a traditional restaurant owner like this has to decide is can they adapt to the changing times and make themselves an appealing choice or is it just time to bow out gracefully. When you've been around for 30 years, that time is bound to come, whether it's because of a food cart or something else. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, you have to stay relevant to the current customer base. If you do that, it'll be ok, your customers will come back, even if they do get caught up in the excitement & have a fling with the ravioli guy.