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Channel 5 News: Dave Andelman complains about food trucks hurting brick-and-mortar restaurant business

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[We've moved this discussion of this local news story from the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/866817 -- The Chowhound Team]

Yesterday's Channel 5 news had a piece in which Dave Andelman complained, purportedly on behalf of Boston's brick-and-mortar restaurants, about food trucks hurting their business. He wants an ordinance to prevent trucks parking within 500 ft of restaurants. The truckies say this would drive them out of business because in Boston, no place with decent foot traffic is further than 500 ft from establishments that sell food. They also note that their business is curtailed by weather so they are not constant competition for the stationary food sellers.

The cynic in me wonders how much of this is the Phantom Gourmet business disliking food trucks because they aren't profitable enough to contract with PG for TV ads or vending at PG events.

  1. Do you think they PGS will agree to no PG festivals or other PG money making events within the same distance of andy Brick & Mortars

    1. Georgetown cupcakes drove the Cupcakory truck away so I guess the answer lies in variety, quality and price point rather than whether the premises has tires.

      1. Probably a Not About Food topic, but Dave Andelman has been beating the anti-food-truck drum for weeks now, using his own TV and radio shows, appearing as a guest on various other talk-radio shows around town, writing editorials in the Somerville Patch and Boston Business Journal, and pressing his case on Beacon Hill as the head of his lobbying group, the Restaurant and Business Alliance. The comments (mine included) on the Patch editorial are fun: http://somerville.patch.com/articles/...

        I've noted elsewhere that there's a huge overlap between RABA members and Phantom Gourmet sponsors. Boston Inno did a piece on it, spurred by some public comments I made noting this connection: http://bostinno.com/2012/08/20/why-is...

        In short, it's your basic case of crony capitalism, Andelman lobbying on behalf of his sponsors with brick-and-mortar restaurants to gain them a protectionist advantage against an innovative new market entrant. The Phantom just found a new angle to the world's oldest profession.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        2 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          It's not like Phantom needed a new angle. They have no shortage of angles to the world's oldest profession.

          1. re: Blumie

            Had I twelve thumbs to hold up in approval of this comment, I would.

        2. The real answer is that yes it hurts restaurants but if it does then costs will decline because the longer term effect would be on real estate values, meaning rents. A landlord's rents are in the end based on the success of the tenant businesses. If the tenants don't make money, the rent has to go down.

          This could happen by restructuring the rent clause to shift more of the total expected rent to percentage rent. Some restaurant leases include percentage rent, meaning there's a base rent and then a percentage of sales above some threshold. This is more the case with bigger restaurants and chains because no one can audit small, largely cash businesses.

          But the long-term adjustment would be in rent to make up for lost sales. This could displace some restaurants in favor of other kinds of tenants but that would mean the location is marginal as a restaurant to begin with because a good restaurant tenant pays more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lergnom

            This is more the case with bigger restaurants and chains because no one can audit small, largely cash businesses.

            ~~~

            unless a place has a cash-only policy, like say, bartley's, the majority of restaurant meals are paid for with plastic. we live in a relatively cashless society at this point.

          2. I can see his point and somewhat agree with him. The food trucks have more variable then fixed costs. I'm not a big fan of the show, but not a fan of taking business away from store front mom and pop stores either.

            21 Replies
            1. re: libertywharf

              As I point out in the Somerville Patch comments, the logic of acting to protect the interests of established entrants against newer ones because of alleged "unfair competitive advantages" leads to some interesting places.

              1) Why isn't Andelman advocating protectionism against the big national chains that have moved into the Seaport, sucking business away from independent brick-and-mortar restaurants in other neighborhoods of the city? Don't they have an unfair competitive advantage, with their deep pockets to sign long-term Waterfront leases and buy $400K full-liquor licenses, their sourcing economies of scale, their national advertising budgets, and their access to abundant, cheap parking?

              2) Who will protect the food trucks from the unfair advantages that brick-and-mortar establishments have, like the ability to seat customers, let them use a bathroom, serve alcohol, operate in a blizzard, have a fixed location where their customers always know to find them, have running water and gas cooktops?

              3) Where was Dave when Amazon and Apple were turning the bookstores and the CD shops into empty storefronts? Doesn't protecting legacy businesses demand that we put the brakes on any innovative new business model or technology advancements? Won't someone think of the buggy whips?

              Anyway, Andelman's position seems like an odd, anti-capitalistic, protectionist stance for such an allegedly pro-business, anti-regulation Republican. Or maybe we should apply Occam's Razor, and conclude he's just whoring for his sponsors after all.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Or maybe we should apply Occam's Razor, and conclude he's just whoring for his sponsors after all.

                  ~~~~

                  this^^.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I guess we pick and choose our topics. Not all the rests in the seaport area are chains. The chain concept applies more to legals then mortons. At least mortons does not have their food prepared in a commissary and shipped to the final destination.

                    Why some don't like food trucks is because they can use the social media outlets to determine the busy areas, and as long as they keep moving the board of health cannot catch them.

                    1. re: libertywharf

                      You see my point about protectionism though, yes? As in, where does it end? Do we let lobbyists determine who deserves protection from whom? Why not protect the interests of local restaurants against national chains? Doesn't this kind of protectionism stifle innovation?

                      I could take the argument completely the other way, and contend that food trucks deserve special treatment as an infant industry. Alexander Hamilton would approve.

                      The board of health argument is specious. Andelman likes to refer to food trucks as "gypsy operators", suggesting that they can and do park anywhere they want. This is a lie. A food truck is not like a three-card monte game that can pop up anywhere and then vanish the moment they spot the coppers. Every truck goes to a location licensed by the city and typically stays there for the day.

                      Even if this weren't true, all ISD would have to do is go to http://streetfoodapp.com/boston or get the corresponding app. Food trucks don't hide their location; that would be bad for business.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Plus, the health inspector point is thrown in to basically cast a foul aspersion on the cleanliness of food trucks for the street food phobic. Kind of like the Legal Seafoods ads, where Roger Berkowitz tells viewers that all their seafood is checked daily in their own labs...Saying, without saying it, that if yours isn't, you're taking your life into your hands...

                        1. re: galleygirl

                          "...where Roger Berkowitz tells viewers that all their seafood is checked daily in their own labs...Saying, without saying it, that if yours isn't, you're taking your life into your hands..."

                          -----------------
                          I think that's a stretch. Their quality lab is Legal's competitive advantage. And what's wrong with advertising, and standing behind, the quality and freshness of your product.

                          1. re: Niblet

                            I agree with galleygirl that Andelman is trying to slur the cleanliness of food trucks. The term "gypsy operator" is a typically offensive usage meant to imply that they're operating beyond the law, unlicensed, uninspected, dirty. He also is deliberately ignoring the fact that ISD has been pretty rigorous about inspecting the trucks. I suspect ISD is on the job because the Mayor has put some political weight behind supporting the food truck movement and doesn't want an embarrassing incident due to under-inspection.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Well of course you agree, you made the original statement with which galleygirl was concurring. I don't agree with the correlation that Legals is casting aspersion on their competition by focusing on and touting the quality of their own product.

                              1. re: Niblet

                                I should have been clearer: I'm conceding your point about Legal while defending mine about the "gypsy" slur.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                          Protectionism isn't bad. Suppose Mr Softy parks his truck in front ofyour house all the time. All day long. Would that be right? Would you call the cops?

                          The idea that foodtrucks can take advantage of a great location without paying the entry price is not right. Period. Stop all the Econ 101 posturing and look at reality.

                          1. re: sal_acid

                            The problem with this argument is that in fact, food trucks can't just park anywhere they want. The City tells them where they can park and charges them a fee for it, and imposes a host of other licensing fees and regulatory hurdles. Food trucks have their own specific set of costs and business challenges, their own big obstacles to profitability: it's just that brick-and-mortar rent isn't one of them.

                            How do you feel about protecting Al's against other restaurants opening on his block? Those clearly weren't there when he opened, and it changes his business case. Is that unfair? What about all the unfair advantages that Al's or any brick-and-mortar establishment has over food trucks (seating, bathrooms, etc.)? Do you think the law should step in to level that playing field?

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              If you are comparing like with like, it would be a take-out sandwich shop with a food truck. In that case the product and services are the same. Just the rent is different.

                              If the city locates them wisely, then both B&M and truck will benefit. If the truck wants to park next to the B&M then that seems wrong to me.

                              1. re: sal_acid

                                Again, trucks can't just park wherever they want. The City restricts them to a handful of specific locations which it approved after a long planning process that included local businesses. I imagine Al didn't speak up when he had the chance, thinking, "Pffft, I'm not going to lose business to some idiot in a truck doing pork-neck chili / Fritos burritos for $8 a throw."

                                One has to wonder: if the food truck business is so lucrative, easy, and blessed with unfair advantages, why aren't more brick-and-mortar restaurants jumping on the bandwagon?

                                If an unlicensed truck were to randomly set up shop in front of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, I agree that would be wrong, but that is not what's happening.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  Yet the take out sandwich chain Firehouse subs chose their new location despite the fact that there are 5 food trucks within 2 blocks and one about 100 feet away.

                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                              Thanks for all your well-stated points, MC. Where will it end? Maybe budget sandwich shops shouldn't be allowed to open up near high end restaurants, as they'll take away business as well! The food truck experience is completely separate from a sit-down establishment. If someone wants a nice lunch with table service, they'll opt for the brick/mortar. Food trucks provide an alternative experience that really doesn't compete, IMO. This certainly reeks strongly of ulterior motives......

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                How about my rights in a free, supposedly capitalist society, to eat where I want to eat? If I want to have a nice chick pea fritter sandwich from the Clover Food Lab truck in Dewey Sq., instead of waiting for a burrito from Chipotle, that's my right to do, isn't it?

                              1. re: libertywharf

                                that is capitalism. Mom and pop's are more likely to afford a food truck than opening a restaurant in harvard square.

                              2. Seems that some food truck's tribute check didn't clear.

                                1. Not for nothing, but many of the food truck locations seem to be in places that a) have a vast amount of people who are not likely to sit down for a meal and b) are in areas that are hurting for good food options, i.e., Government Center and Financial District.

                                  Maybe the brick and mortar places should just make better food.

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                    I think you've put your finger on one of the credibility problems for the anti-food-truck argument, aside from the obvious one that it's got Dave Andelman as its spokesperson.

                                    Andelman's favorite example is Al's South Street sub shop. Al himself has gone on the Phantom Gourmet TV show to assert that he's lost 20% of his business at that store to the Greenway food trucks. Not coincidentally, he's a frequent guest on the show, a longtime sponsor, and a dues-paying RABA member (that's a cool grand a year, by the way, and RABA's partial list of members runs to over 120 entries.)

                                    Anecdotally, I can't detect any slowdown in his business, and I doubt he'd be willing to submit to the kind of auditing that his mostly-cash operation would have to in order to back up his claims. He also falsely claims that the food trucks are undercutting him on price when that's clearly not the case. Maybe, just maybe people want some fresh alternatives to $6 and $8 deep-fried chicken parm subs.

                                    The Boston Business Journal ran a nice, fact-filled rebuttal to Andelman's editorial along these lines: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blo...

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      He's also the infamous "Al from Everett" on WEEI and more than a bit of a media whore himself.

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            As a treat we drive from our office in Southie to Al's. There's no slowdown there.

                                            Maybe from tourists but certainly not from the office lunch crowd.

                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                          I have not heard Al from Everett on EEI in a while - I think he has toned down that schtick.

                                          And my eyeballs say that there has been a decrease in his business, certainly at the original location, which has to do with a) price creep (the "small" used to be an absolute steal - now, not quite as much, though still a good deal); b) the growth of Boston Kebab Factory (which seems healthier); c) the opening of several other deli-style restaurants in and around the area; and d) food trucks.

                                          That said, I still occasionally crave gorging myself on a State Street Special....

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                            On the PG show (radio or TV, I forget -- he's been on both on this subject), Al claimed that his original State Street location was unaffected, but his South Street location's receipts were down about 20%. "Hmm," I thought, "So when trucks are on the Greenway, they hurt you, but those same trucks at Government Center don't? Very interesting." Certainly to my eyeballs, the business at both seems to be a shower of flying cash at peak times, but I've just been sticking my head in to see if they looked noticeably slower.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              That South Street location is absolutely packed during lunch. I see no difference to the business when they first opened that location before the existence of the Greenway trucks. Obviously you can only pick up so much by walking by (because I would never actually eat there), but I find the 20% claim to be a little ridiculous. I would actually argue that it's busier now than when in first opened, partly due to the fact that Two Financial Center wasn't built when Al's entered that space.

                                              1. re: mkfisher

                                                Funny, I was talking about the original location. So who knows.
                                                At peak times, the line started at the door into the street. Last few times I've been (at peak) I walked right up to the counter.

                                                Anyway, the typical Al's customer *is not* someone who is going to patronize some yuppie-ass food truck.

                                                1. re: mkfisher

                                                  "(because I would never actually eat there)"

                                                  Why not? Last I knew, it was quick and tasty, a good price and served on a roll that was superior to 3/4 of sandwich places.

                                                  1. re: total13

                                                    I don't like the roll, but that's just personal taste. What isn't personal taste is the incredibly slimey cold cuts they serve. Seems like really low quality stuff.

                                                    Just in that general area I prefer Trattoria Andiamo on South St., Figaro's on Beach St, Sandwich Express on Kingston St, Foumami on High, and the "evil" Bon Me truck in Dewey Square.

                                            2. re: C. Hamster

                                              Absolutely is Al from Everett. Glenn Ordway often mentioned the shop.

                                            3. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Maybe Al's business is down because they haven't changed their menu in 10 years so the food has become boring. You can get a similar product to theirs at dozens of other places downtown. They are putting in the minimal effort yet expecting ever increasing profits.

                                              Meanwhile, the good food trucks are constantly adding new items, sourcing local ingredients, and adjusting their menus to what is in season. Al's does none of that. The main reason his business is down is because his competitors are trying harder and are keeping up with the times.

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I eat at Al's South Street shop sometimes. It's an OK place and the subs are good. If someone offers me a unique experience and food that I can't get easily elsewhere, I'll seek it out, whether it is on wheels or not. Although my workplace has moved from State St. to Fort Point, I will still walk to Sultan's Kitchen for lunch, because it's food I can't easily find anywhere else. Sub shops? They are on every corner. Al's is not head and shoulders above a good $3.00 Bahn Mi in Chinatown...so is he going to close down the shops in Chinatown so I'm forced to come to his place? Nobody is "entitled" to customers. You earn your customers with the food you serve and the service you provide.

                                                1. re: mwk

                                                  "You earn your customers with the food you serve and the service you provide."

                                                  In-deed.

                                                  This phrase should be forcibly tattooed on Mr. Andelman's forehead.

                                                  1. re: KWagle

                                                    Maybe backwards, so he can read it in his shaving mirror?

                                              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                My thoughts too. When I've opted for a food truck, it's never been in place of having a sit down meal anywhere. It's usually when I need something quick -- the only option I'm not choosing is a fast food joint or a food court. B&M restaurants would not be the ones concerned, but the Mickey Ds or the upteempth Qdoba should be.

                                              3. What do you expect from a dork like that.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: treb

                                                  The dorkiness of the Andelmans is not a score on which I'll throw stones. The question is credibility and ethics. Sometimes RABA does good for the entire industry, as in when it got liquor service hours extended for Sunday brunch. Sometimes it's just trying to help its dues-paying friends, as when it tries to quash the food trucks to help its brick-and-mortar members. And I don't have a problem with that: RABA is a lobby, and lobbies help their paying members. The interdependencies are fairly transparent.

                                                  Where the Andelmans gets mired, as always, is in the fact that on their TV and radio shows, they pretend to be critics, consumer advocates pointing people to great food, when in fact they're mostly just shilling for their sponsors without disclosing the relationships. That's clearly unethical in professional restaurant critic terms. This is why the food nerd community mostly hates them, as well as the local restaurateurs that have opted not to pay the graft. It's not their terrible taste we despise; it's the insult to our intelligence inherent in the whore trying to convince us she's really doing it for love.

                                                  The fact that there's a gigantic overlap between RABA members and Phantom Gourmet sponsors also smells a bit off. I wonder if there's a package deal: buy ads on our show, get a discounted RABA membership? In my most recent Devil's Dining Awards, I had given RABA and Dave a mulligan for its good deeds, like fighting for a restaurant tax holiday. Now I'm starting to think it's like the occasional Phantom Gourmet praise for a good restaurant like Coppa on the TV show: an attempt to hang a flimsy halo on themselves before they get back to the business of whoring for their paying clients.

                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    You hit on the main issue, credibility and paying to play.

                                                2. If the food trucks had a colossal amount of melted cheese and enough bacon to give a pig a heart attack on them, Dave Andelman would like them... but only if they paid him.

                                                  53 Replies
                                                  1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                                                    I'd go further than that: it could be vegan, organic, and steamed, and Dave Andelman would like it -- if they paid him. "You know, I'm not one to sing the praises of this artsy-fartsy, earthy-crunchy stuff, BUT..."

                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                          1. re: passing thru

                                                            prostitutes are ever thus.

                                                            i was told long ago to be polite to them as they are performing a service, but dont believe a thing they say.

                                                            1. re: passing thru

                                                              Some of the food trucks do move around and anyone who thinks they don't, is blogging too much and not walking around the city.
                                                              Just follow some of their tweets and it's obvious some move with the crowds. I saw several pull up near the rest trade, stay 30 minutes and leave.
                                                              The Endleman bros aren't against all food trucks. I've seen them endorse several including lobsta luv.

                                                              1. re: libertywharf

                                                                Yeah, except I'm not a blogger, and I log about four to five miles a day on foot on weekdays between the South End, Beacon Hill, Downtown, North End, Chinatown, and the Waterfront. I'm frankly skeptical of your claims about food trucks operating in unauthorized locations.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  I know that I've seen the Fillbellys truck tweet about moving around to match the crowds at night, but that's been at least a year or two. Are they even still around?

                                                                  He might also be referring to old style roach coaches. I know there's one that drives around near my work nad parks here & there for a bit.

                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                    Then let's reiterate the distinction here. The kind of trucks that Andelman and his cronies are attacking are the Staff Meals, BBQsmiths, Bon Mes, and other denizens of the Greenway near Al's South Street, as well as other City-authorized locations, what Andelman calls the "trendy new food trucks", not the old-school roach coaches.

                                                                    I think the use of "gypsy" slur is at least partly designed to conflate these two categories, though they are completely different in terms of licensing, how and where they operate, and especially in the kind of product they serve, as anyone who has dined from both a roach coach and The Taco Truck or a Clover Food Lab knows.

                                                                    Fill Belly's went brick and mortar in JP over a year ago, and I believe retired the truck.

                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                      At least in the past jobsite food truck routes were "licensed" by a power higher than Menino....

                                                                      1. re: itaunas

                                                                        God sets the food truck routes?

                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                          Not exactly, but going off your route was not advised particularly if a job was on someone else's route. Menino he can only fine you and make licensing difficult. While catering trucks have a lot of stops, they don't randomly choose places to park.

                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                            Think cigarette machines and jukeboxes. Also, ice cream truck drivers protecting their old routes with knifeplay.

                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                              MC...I read your blogs and follow your reviews but I think you are only seeing one side of the picture here. Food Trucks do pull up and park in front of brick and mortar mom and pops (whether assigned by the city or not) with virtually no cost of entry and very few fixed costs. These are definite and powerful advantages. I'm not sure if you ever owned a small restaurant but if you did, and a food truck paying no rent pulled up and parked in front of it...drawing long lines (which happens, especially in the financial, greenway area where I work)...no doubt you wouldn't be so strident in your defense of the trucks. i certainly think they are a legit business and bring value but I think you need to see both sides here and find a balance of protecting both sides.

                                                                              1. re: foodisnice

                                                                                If an unlicensed food truck is pulling up in front of a brick-and-mortar restaurant outside of the very narrow constraints the city has established for them, I think we can all agree that this is problematic and that the City should shut them down. I would not be surprised to learn that some roach-coach type players are doing this.

                                                                                But that's not the issue here. Dave Andelman is attacking the new (his words) "trendy food trucks", which are obviously a distinct category from the classic roach coaches. These new players have to operate within the regulatory framework established by the City of Boston, which places strict limits on where and when they can do business.

                                                                                Those rules don't allow pulling up on some sidewalk in front of an existing restaurant.. There are clear, narrowly defined zones and operating hours: the Greenway near South Station, City Hall Plaza, the SoWa Open Market, a spot in front of Peters Park, an otherwise vacant block behind the new Hancock Building, a few others. These operators also have a number of other onerous regulatory hurdles to clear before they can set up shop within these narrow limits.

                                                                                Andelman and his lobby are attempting to confuse the issue, trying to make it seem like there's a flood of "gypsy" trucks materializing out of thin air to park in front of brick-and-mortar restaurants to steal their business. If someone could demonstrate that this were truly the case, I would stand up and say, "That shouldn't happen." But that simply is not how the kind of food trucks he's attacking are actually operating.

                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                1. re: foodisnice

                                                                                  " Food Trucks do pull up and park in front of brick and mortar mom and pops... which happens, especially in the financial, greenway area where I work"

                                                                                  foodisnice - since you have first hand knowledge, what restaurant are they pulling up in front of, and what food trucks are doing this? I would prefer not to patronize those trucks. Thanks.

                                                                                  1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                                                                                    There's a little square on the corner of Oliver Street and Milk Street that has been designated for food trucks. Right down the block from Max's Deli and across from where a Pizza place was...since closed as well as several other little sub and sandwich ships on Oliver and Milk street.
                                                                                    By the Greenway...ask Pasta Beach if there lunch business isn't hurt by the trucks parked on the Greenway right across from their establishment.
                                                                                    Again, nothing against food trucks but I think there needs to be a balance and I wouldn't want to be Max on those days the trucks have long lines and aren't paying 1000's in month in rent. Something that wasn't there when he and others signed their lease...and rents are not going down...never do.

                                                                                    1. re: foodisnice

                                                                                      As one data point, I work near the Liberty Square location (Oliver and Milk) and never went to Max's Deli or the pizza place. I did and still do go occasionally to the Boston Kebab House. Again, the reason I have gone to the food trucks on occasion is that the food is more exciting and better tasting than a tired old deli sandwich (which if I want one, I will walk over to Al's).

                                                                                      That said, I would agree that when the Redbones truck is there, it is mostly guys and I would guess that is hitting the same demographic as Max's - people who do not appreciate good food. ;)

                                                                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                        Don't you think it's interesting that Redbones has both a truck and a brick and mortar place? Maybe that's one answer for some restaurants- they already have a licensed kitchen and staff for a truck.

                                                                                        1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                          For some reason, the Andelmans seem to have particular venom for the Redbones truck, noting that it's from a *Somerville* restaurant and has the audacity to suck business away from good *Boston* restaurants.

                                                                                          I'm guessing Redbones told Mike Andelman, the Phantom Gourmet's head of sales, to go screw at some point.

                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                            We get it, Andlemans and Phantom are evil incarnate. Point made (over and over and over).

                                                                                            1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                              I haven't spent much time bashing the Andelmans here lately; one of my very occasional blog pieces summed up my feelings about them years ago. But this is a little different than just, "Blah, their stupid show promotes shitty food in return for ad dollars: how very un-Chowish of them."

                                                                                              In this case, they're using their power as lobbyists to try to hurt the food truck movement, to hem them in, to convince the government to force them to operate in out-of-the-way locations. That's a fight I think Chowhounds should care about, an argument worth debunking, point by point by point.

                                                                                              I imagine if the discussion bores you, you could always just move along.

                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                The topic doesn't bore me, but your enmity for the Andleman's certainly does. Maybe you could just move along past this obsession?

                                                                                                1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                                  Again, this is not about the Andelmans as people. I don't know them personally. But they are kicking up a lot of dust on this issue, telling a whole lot of different kinds of lies in a multimedia campaign aimed at changing the law to make food trucks harder to get to. I'm trying to knock down each of them as they're brought up here.

                                                                                                  It doesn't appear like many Chowhounds have taken the trouble as I have to read, watch, and listen to how they're pressing this argument, but it is a serious lobbying effort. I like the food trucks and don't think they should be murdered in their cradle because they represent fresh competition to some Phantom Gourmet sponsors.

                                                                                                  If my commitment to the subject bugs you, I'm going to suggest you squint and look away when you see one of my posts here.

                                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                    Lobbying efforts aren't bad, per se. They're just bad when disingenuous or when they foist off lies and bad information.

                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      TV hosts...lobbyists...food writers...sub shop owners. Everyone formally connected the industry is influenced by something other than the search for great chow and has an angle to a certain extent. Many of your posts are informative and useful to me, but yes, I take all industry related posts, blogs and articles in a different light. No one is going to waste time debating that you are the ultimate subject matter expert on the food truck 'lobby', so attack away and I will squint and and look away at your instruction.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                                        Subject matter expert? Please, this is Chowhound: anyone who styles him or herself an expert here gets laughed off the board.

                                                                                                        I'm pressing the case here because I feel strongly about it, enough to endure listening to that awful radio show (give it a spin sometime if you doubt that characterization). That gives me some detail on how Andelman and his restaurateur cronies have built their attack on food trucks that you'd miss if all you'd seen was the Patch editorial, etc.

                                                                                                        I suspect any Hound who likes food trucks enough to regularly patronize them would be very angry if RABA succeeded in getting them pushed out of their currently approved areas in Government Center, the Greenway, the Back Bay, and the like.

                                                                                                        (I'm also curious as to how writing about food gives me a formal connection to the industry that is any different from anyone who posts on Chowhound simply for the love of it.)

                                                                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                          I hope they get pushed from those spots over to the kendall square area. If that would happen, I'd support any BS policy the Andelmans want.

                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                            Believe me, I have no love for the Andelman brothers. And PG is for food what Transformers is for cinema. And I love food trucks and everything they are about. And Slim, I respect your passionate defense of said trucks. But at the end of the day, there ARE businesses that have a problem with them. Dave Andelman is just speaking on their behalf. (Enough about shilling etc., we got it. Just because they are "restaurateur cronies" does not therefore mean they don't have a point.) Are they just making up their problems/position? Why? These are tough economic times. Real or imagined (as you seem to argue), these are businesses that perceive a threat, and they are speaking out, either individually or through a group they are part of (RABA). I don't want to see the trucks go anywhere, but I am also reluctant to be so dismissive about the concerns of people who spend their life trying to survive in a very difficult industry.

                                                                                                            1. re: StevieC

                                                                                                              I'm certainly open and potentially sympathetic to this argument, but it would be a lot more convincing coming from someone without the Andelmans' long history of turd-polishing for profit. Surely there's someone who can speak more credibly to the adverse impact of food trucks on a brick-and-mortar business than Al Costello, a restaurateur who is tied to the Phantom Gourmet at the hip.

                                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                              1. re: StevieC

                                                                                                                If you accept that the food trucks have no competitive advantage overall, versus a B&M, the the discussion ends. It then becomes one of a myriad of factors that determines whether your business, stationary or mobile, survives.

                                                                                                                1. re: StevenL57

                                                                                                                  MC is right on the mark here, IMO. I think what MC is trying to get at, here, is what the Andelman's motivation is for raising such a fuss. Are they really concerned with the sustainability of the B&Ms in question, or is it their own pocketbooks at the root of their "concern". Their past behavior/motivations needs to be discussed, as it influences how we decide what their motivations are now.

                                                                                                                  This boils down to a matter of a competitive market. No one has the right to restrict fair competition. If food trucks are offering a product that is superior to something offered at a nearby B&M, it is up to the B&M to raise their bar and compete for that market share. Andelman's or not, no one should be underhandedly trying to suppress that market competition.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                                                                    No one should should try to quell the andelmen's right to freedom of speech. Rating rests is what their show is all about. They have been very successful in voicing their opinions.
                                                                                                                    No one is trying to put the food trucks out of business. The A bros are doing the exact same of which most do here. There are many bloggers who rip places all the time and most likely without eating at that place within the six months.

                                                                                                                    The bottom line is these food trucks have a much lower overhead then a store front rest. Without tradtional running water, the trucks are also a high risk to violate board of health regulations. I'll stick with the old fashion rests

                                                                                                                    1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                      "Without tradtional running water, the trucks are also a high risk to violate board of health regulations."
                                                                                                                      I'd like to see your data on that.

                                                                                                                      1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                        "traditional running water"? If they have clean water available and use it correctly, no issue. I think you would be horrified if you went back into the kitchens of some B&M establishments that HAVE city water and see how dirty they operated. Clean operation and adherence to food safety standards are either maintained or not, regardless of the source of the water. In either case, the board of health can shut anyone down for excessive violations and food trucks are held to the same standard as the B&Ms.

                                                                                                                        1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                          They can talk all they want, but the more facts I see on this, the less likely I would be to go to Al's, a place that I've had many subs from over the years, given what a blowhard and whiner he seems to be on this subject (no wonder his wife dumped him and took half the business). One irony here is that I don't even like most of the food trucks - the only ones I go to with any regularity are Staff Meal, Roxy and Clover. The rest don't do much for me, and given the long lines, I usually end up at one of my old faves like Chacarero, Karo's, La Grassa, Cafe Latino, Zo, five million places in Chinatown, etc.

                                                                                                                          1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                            I don't see anyone here suggesting the Andelmans should be censored, nor gainsaying the success of their shows.

                                                                                                                            But having watched their show for years, I have a healthy respect for their ability to sell dubious opinions for profit.

                                                                                                                            Your contention about the alleged health issues of the food trucks is baseless and pernicious, the same kind of ugly insinuation the Andelmans are using. It doesn't exactly buttress your credibility, libertywharf.

                                                                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                              Free speech does not mean you have the right to say unfounded damaging things about a person or business. That is called slander, and it is a tortious act.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                Frankly, I might be more concerned about cleanliness in kitchens out back in brick & mortar restaurants than in food trucks, where you can actually see the food prep.

                                                                                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                    Thanks MC

                                                                                                                    Your commitment to the subject is one of the reasons I posted- I tend to keep my head down on this board but your comments about Amazon struck me and I see this as a bigger deal than I did before I read some of the posts. I know in Brookline the town fathers were happy to champion the religious rights of an abutter to eliminate one of the spots they were allowing for the trucks, and I'm not saying that was a bad thing, but they did not come up with plan B for the area, that sacred cow known as Coolidge Corner. Most of the spots the town is generously allowing the pilot program to use are actually on the Boston line abutting BU or BC campus.
                                                                                                                    The rents and the taxes restaurants have to pay in Brookline already border on the criminal yet there is a hue and cry about chains. The trucks offer an opportunity to indies that they can't afford in brick and mortar and I welcome them. Would like to see them on Beacon Street instead of Comm Ave.

                                                                                                        2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                                          I used to work down that way and I can say that while I often hit up the then-new food trucks, it almost never stole business from any of the neighboring businesses - especially the ones raising a ruckus as I never went to those spots ever.

                                                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                            Yeah, a colleague forced me to go to Max's recently, and it made school cafeteria food look good. Chicken kabob salad was totally bland, and everything clearly came from Sysco. Lots of grayish, crusted over meat n'glop in steamer trays. That said, there were tons of people in there.

                                                                                                        3. re: foodisnice

                                                                                                          Bostone closed in March, and I don't think they had the food trucks to blame for that because 1) none of the food trucks sell pizza, and 2) their pizza was not very good. I'm not sure which sub shops you are referring to that have gone out of business, but Cafe Razdora is still packin' em in at lunch time, largely because they put out a great quality product. So is Boston Kabob House. Also, the food truck lines in Liberty Square are not always that long - especially when it's Lobstah Love day. On Oliver Street, you've got Speed's and the Crepe truck, which offer items you can't get at any brick and mortar shops nearby.

                                                                                                          There are a number of mediocre lunch spots in that area, Max's included, which I can't believe are surviving with or without food truck competition. Maybe this will up their game a bit.

                                                                                                          1. re: foodisnice

                                                                                                            Trucks are not free. In fact, they're quite expensive. And they depreciate quickly. There's your "rent".

                                                                                                            If Max sees lines somewhere else besides his place, it means people like the other place better, period. It doesn't matter if the other place is a truck or a hole in the wall.

                                                                                                        4. re: foodisnice

                                                                                                          I work on the greenway, and have never seen this happen. There's the Clover Truck, Bon Me, BBQ Smith, and Kickass Cupcakes, all parked in Dewey Square, with some other occasional trucks rotating in. I have never seen a truck parked in front of Al's, or any other lunch spots nearby. The city is vigilant about truck locations and food vending, plus, I can't imagine "mom and pop" just sitting by while an unlicensed gypsy truck parks in front of their door.

                                                                                                          1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                            And if the filthy gypsies parked in front of his door all he needs to do is call the police or take a picture of their truck and license number and report them.

                                                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                              All this talk is making me actually crave "gypsy food." Is this available anywhere nearby, off a truck, or otherwise?

                                                                                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                                Cafe Polonia does placek cygański, "gypsy pancake", their already awesome giant potato pancake stuffed with goulash and topped with sour cream and parsley.

                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                  Oh, man - I have to get one of those. I can further slather it with that awesome pork fat they put out in lieu of butter, for a dish worth driving for.

                                                                                                            2. re: nsenada

                                                                                                              +1 to all of this...

                                                                                                              foodisnice - Which trucks have you seen do this? Where?

                                                                                                  2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                    Indeed a wonderfully provocative topic! While my sympathies are with the fox, I understand the point of view of the hounds.

                                                                                                  3. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                    You're not a blogger...but you include your blog's website at the bottom of your post? (You might not have updated it in a while, but you still have a blog.)

                                                                                                    Just sayin'.

                                                                                                    And yes, you have the reviews in the free weeklies and push your reviews on twitter when they are picked up by eater.com....but that doesn't mean you should try to distance yourself from a tool you use to push those other "non-blogging...but really what's the difference" pieces.

                                                                                                    1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                                                                                      It's true that it's like a food blog in many respects: it's on Google Blogspot, and has my Twitter feed, a link to my Facebook page, a blogroll. But in function, 95% of it is links to my professional reviews, interviews, and press citations. My blog posts this year? One in February, one in April. So I guess I'm a blogger, just a really crappy, lazy one.

                                                                                                      The distinction I suppose I want to make is that nearly all of my food writing is done on a professional basis, and not just because I get paid by an alt-weekly to review restaurants on behalf of consumers, but because I'm free of influence from sponsors, try to maintain my anonymity, abide by journalistic standards of ethics, research quality, factual accuracy, fairness, and so on. Give the meager earnings I reap from a few reviews a month and the odd feature, you could call it a labor of love, and I know I'm not in the same league as the pros who make food writing their main occupation. But I still consider it more than the amateur's hobby, and so does the IRS.

                                                                                                      Real bloggers publish regular updates on topics they're passionate about: restaurant / bar reviews, industry news, cooking and recipes, issues like sustainability, etc. Frequent blog entries are typically a big part of their brand. I don't think it's part of mine: I'd have to write at least two semi-serious pieces a month before I'd call myself a blogger.

                                                                                                      But in the end, I don't have a real problem with being called a blogger, except when it's lobbed in a way to suggest a lack of integrity, seriousness, or professionalism on my part -- and in the process, denigrating a lot of folks, both pro and amateur, with serious, well-written, unbiased food blogs. Some people can't say "blogger" without sounding like they're also saying "gypsy".

                                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                          2. Thanks to MC for referring to this thread, I don't get here as often as I should. In the spirit of full disclosure, I maintain hubfoodtrucks.com , so you know where my sympathies are. Economies are always developing, new innovations always occuring. If you buy something online to avoid paying taxes on something you could buy local, especially at a mom and pop, thank you for conceding the moral high ground :). I'm not really dissing you, but rather, providing an example.

                                                                                            Food trucks are part of a new economy, and one of the reasons I support them is that I'm supporting small business. And a number of trucks have grown and provided jobs. I decide on a number of basis whether I am going to eat at a truck, factoring in many of the same things I do if another B&M was there. Do I like the food? Can I get it quick at lunchtime? Price? Line? Would I rather eat at a local biz versus the abundance of chains?

                                                                                            I have also felt that if a full service restaurant cannot compete with a truck that has about 6 menu items, they couldn't be that good in the first place. Food trucks are showing you can have quality food, often locally sourced, at competitive prices. Maybe the trucks believe in their product more than the B&M's? Would Al want to put his $6 sammie up against Bon Me?

                                                                                            I will almost guarantee no licensed truck in Boston goes rogue on where they are parked. No one is going to take the chance of being fined or having licenses pulled.

                                                                                            Innovation. Creativity. Economic opportunity. Good eats. The food truck culture is here and you can expect it to expand further, not get boxed in.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: StevenL57

                                                                                              Any inside track on a fancy doughnut truck, like The Doughnut Plant on wheels?

                                                                                            2. This same subject is currently being hashed out in Las Vegas. Food trucks have really taken off, they even have the Vegas strEATs fest where all of the trucks get together in one area from time to time.

                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                                                That's very cool about Vegas strEATs. San Fran has a similar thing called Off the Grid. It's important for people to push back against the Andelmans. I think the Boston Food Truck Association needs to lead that charge. I think from the city of Boston's perspective, there is zero chance of scaling back the program. PG can take their "festivals" elsewhere.

                                                                                                1. re: StevenL57

                                                                                                  Fascinating how strong the reactions here are on both sides of the issue. The only point I am trying to raise is that there are 2 sides of this issue and some simply refuse to see this and point to a 'new economy' that, ultimately, may be pushing away some of the 'old economy' and we may all end up regretting that on those rainy days when the trucks choose to stay home.
                                                                                                  Bottom line for me is what Gabatta said in his posts above, which to me, is a balanced reasonable approach to this issue from both sides of the sidewalk.
                                                                                                  I'm surprised that MC is so dogmatic on this.....
                                                                                                  PS I'm not a big fan of Max's, only ate there twice but I think if he's hurting he has a legit concern.

                                                                                                  1. re: foodisnice

                                                                                                    Hope I'm clear on a couple of points. One, there's a lot of naked disinformation being spread by the Andelmans that needs to be debunked, like the obvious Iie that the food trucks just park randomly in front of mom-and-pop businesses at will. It's easy to prove otherwise: if somebody can show me this is so, I've stated that I think that's wrong and should be shut down. But I think that one is patent bullshit, and it's a big part of their argument.

                                                                                                    Another is their assertion that food trucks have clear and unfair advantages that are dramatically hurting established businesses outside the bounds of fair competition in a free, capitalist market. I don't see them making that case except with hearsay, innuendo, and the anecdotal evidence of someone that sponsors them extensively.

                                                                                                    Two, the Andelmans have provided abundant evidence for a decade-plus that their motives are suspect. There may well be a case to be made against the food trucks here, but that argument needs to be advanced by someone more trustworthy, with more convincing hard data. I don't think asking for that, when their goal is to get the state to intervene to crimp an obviously innovative new business model, is unreasonable or dogmatic.

                                                                                                    I acknowledge a certain partisan preference for the kind of food most of these trucks are promoting -- please pardon my froth -- but I hope most Hounds recognize the purity of my motives. Before the food trucks get consigned to some out-of-the-way location, I'd like to see a more sound case that the playing field needs to be leveled by the government.

                                                                                                    In the end, I'm appealing to the longstanding, worthy skepticism of Chowhounds regarding commercially-driven hype, the efforts of shills and whores to promote their clients at the expense of less well-funded and -connected restaurateurs. It's a giant part of what makes this community unique and invaluable to me. And in my mind, nobody presents a more obvious target for that kind of questioning than the Phantom Gourmet.

                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                      Last night The Gallows teamed up with two trucks, Staff Meal & Mei Mei, for a collaborative dinner and packed the house from beginning to end. Everybody won, and I got these cute and tasty pork pate ice cream cones. The end.

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      1. re: Nab

                                                                                                        That dinner was fantastic. However, I must admit that my table did not get any of the dishes from the Gallows- see, just another example of food trucks hurting the business of B&Ms! :)

                                                                                                        I want the recipe to that kung pao dip, although I'm pretty sure it just reads something like:

                                                                                                        - peanuts
                                                                                                        - chicken
                                                                                                        - fat of some sort
                                                                                                        - fat of some sort
                                                                                                        - some other kind of fat
                                                                                                        - yet more fat
                                                                                                        - add some fat

                                                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                          If the sort of rampant trespassing of food trucks is really happening, wouldn't it be simple for some of these aggrieved restaurants take a picture and post it, or call the city enforcement? Of course it would, and the reason neither has happened is simple - they and the Andelmans are full of it.

                                                                                                          1. re: Msample

                                                                                                            Maybe libertywharf can do some walking around and get some pics to back up her assertions about the food trucks' trespassing ways.

                                                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                              I'll carry my video camera around for you slim. They used to ask on twitter for people to report in busy areas. I've seen several trucks pull up, serve and leave.

                                                                                                              1. re: ac106

                                                                                                                As I've said, I think most Hounds would agree that food trucks operating outside the bounds that the City defined for them after soliciting community and local business input is wrong and should be shut down. But I spend a lot of time in those neighborhoods, and along with many other Hounds, haven't seen any evidence for the claim the Andelmans and some folks here have made about their alleged gypsy ways.

                                                                                                                Given how central this is to their argument, I'm going to need to see some proof, or chalk it up as another self-serving Phantom Gourmet lie.

                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                  I am even less of a fan of the Adelmans than I am this thread. However, can you provide a reference to they have argued food trucks park where they want (talk radio? twitter? facebook)? There are a few allegations about what our Purple friends may have said in this thread and many more in the ether, but the article he wrote is this:

                                                                                                                  http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/pri...

                                                                                                                  It seems to me we are wasting a lot of time talking about the Adelmans when actually we should be focusing on why a Strip T's or an Abigail's or a Casa B or a Belly Up aren't opening in Boston. The addition of the Food Trucks for weekday Downtown workers is a pretty cool thing, but as someone who occasionally works downtown on weekends neither Al's or the food trucks are helping me much except I take advantage of occasional day trips for Cafe Latino visits and will add the food trucks to that rotation. Al and the Kinsale should not only have mobile competition, but innovative brick and mortar competitors too (which could push Chacero and Sam La Grassa to up their game too). Marlowe was a big deal for me and personally the lack of offerings gives me more incentive to "pound pavement" to Chinatown, but we are a tourist City and should offer something beyond the North End and wax museums "imported from the old country" on Weekends. I don't care about the Adelmans, but lets demand that Menino fix more than just adding a few food trucks and paving the "innovation district" with chain restaurants.

                                                                                                                  1. re: itaunas

                                                                                                                    Now that's the kind of worthy Chowhound skepticism I'm talking about! It's a really good idea to have people hear and read the Andelmans' argument as they are presenting it, not just through the lens of someone who strongly disagrees with them.

                                                                                                                    Download the podcast entitled "7/27/12 Al from Al's State St. Cafe" at this link to the WTKK Phantom Gourmet radio show (the location will change slightly over time: you may have to click to higher-numbered pages to get to it, but the title of the podcast shouldn't change): http://www.newstalk969.com/on-air/pha... This encapsulates the basic argument, the "gypsy" slur, the lies and innuendo inherent in their case.

                                                                                                                    Dave Andelman's Boston Business Journal and Somerville Patch editorials are also illustrative: http://somerville.patch.com/articles/... and http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/pri... I'd suggest you read the comments on these, too.

                                                                                                                    I'd also point you to a BBJ editorial rebutting Andelman: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blo...

                                                                                                                    Here's an example of how Dave has been pressing the case on other talk-radio shows, in this case Worcester's WXLO: http://www.wxlo.com/sectional.asp?id=...

                                                                                                                    I listened to and read this crap so you wouldn't have to, but if you're skeptical at all about my take on it, it's all there. You tell me if I captured it accurately.

                                                                                                                    ---

                                                                                                                    Incidentally, I agree strongly with the issue that itaunas raises here about the need for more downtown restaurant innovation and diversity -- well worth its own thread. Maybe we could start with how our antiquated liquor setup and the resulting exorbitant costs of licenses prevents worthy independents from operating on the Boston side of the river -- notice how many cool indies set up shop in Cambridge and Somerville instead? -- and gives us a Seaport that's mostly full of dull national and local chain outlets.

                                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                        2. re: foodisnice

                                                                                                          Re-read my post above: if he is hurting, he does have a legitimate concern--people don't prefer his food. Period. He needs to work on THAT. People are lining out the door at Razdora... should we close them down because Max is hurting? Like I said, truck or store, no difference. If he doesn't like what's going on with his business he has to look at himself, first.

                                                                                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                                                            I totally agree with you Alcachofa! Max's biggest problem isn't the food trucks - it's Max's food. They could get away with what they were serving when they opened - they were pretty much the only thing like that in the area.
                                                                                                            Plus, people have become more "food educated" - opening their palates & trying new things, thus "demanding" the restaurants keep up with their wants/needs. Max's is still serving Sysco frozen fries while Roxy's uses fresh fries, cooked to order - which one would your palate choose?
                                                                                                            Scali on Pearl Street (not too far from Max's) saw this, & they have tried new menu items to try to keep up with this, while it seems like Max's has kept on the same path (FYI, I have never eaten at Max's or Scali, but my co-workers do, so I listen to what they have to say about the both of them).

                                                                                                    2. Yeah - the only "side of the story" I care about is good food, and Max's don't got none. I'd understand wanting to protect the "old ways," as in the French government subsidizing patisseries that would otherwise go under. It's hard to conjure up any good reasons to prop up a place that even the Sysco trucks are probably embarrassed to pull up in front of.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                        The food trucks (as well as the ice ceam trucks (Mister Softee YUM), cupcake trucks, etc. have not hurt NYC restaurants or LA for that matter it would seem. They are EVERYWHERE IN NEW YORK! It comes down to what an individual is looking for - a sit down establishment or a much less casual wait-in-line and go sit on the curb or wherever. I don't care if the best food truck on earth is celebrating half price day - if I am looking for a more leisurely lunch or dinner and want to be served, I'm walking into a restaurant!!

                                                                                                        And for what it is worth, every single restaurant I've ran to after the PG highly suggested it, was a let down. I take what they say with a grain of salt. I do enjoy the brother-to-brother banter though.

                                                                                                      2. Can I complain to Channel 5 about the Andelmans' show hurting the public by consistently recommending brick and mortar restaurants which serve s___ty food?

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: chuck s

                                                                                                          Yes chuck, complain to channel five about phantom gourmet. Let me know what they say.

                                                                                                          1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                            Since PG is on 38, which is owned by 4, don't hold your breath waiting for 5's response. I would not have mentioned Andelman's opinion appearance had it been on 4 or 38, or WTKK or WBZ radio. I'd have expected that. The fact that it was on WCVB(5) shows that he is pushing hard on this particular agenda.

                                                                                                            As for taking PG endorsements with a grain of salt, rachgrn, I'd say in their case, a grain of MSG would be more appropriate, given their infatuation with all things pu-pu and tiki lounge!

                                                                                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                            The latest Improper Bostonian (with Ming Tsai on the cover) has a full page ad... With the Andlemans and that self aggrandizing spoiled puke Ernie Boch Jr.... smearing Dunkin Donuts gooey glazed carb bombs all over their faces. It's not a pretty sight, and I couldn't turn the page fast enough. No idea what farce they were shilling.

                                                                                                            1. re: chuck s

                                                                                                              if they get good ratings and sell ads, then i do not think complaining will help. That is capitalism.

                                                                                                            2. Andelman's argument is basically that B&M restaurants are, for various reasons, not able to be as innovative as food trucks are. Even if we accept this premise as true, his proposed solution -- that we hamstring the ability of food trucks to innovate, too -- is so bizarre and illogical that one wonders when he will drop the foodie charade and become a full-time politician. It is sheer idiocy.

                                                                                                              There is no "new economy" fighting against an "old economy." The economy is the same; businesses seek profits, and when a new and profitable avenue opens up, those who are positioned to take advantage do so. A restaurateur who "invested more in building costs and rent" and then finds that his investment is potentially less valuable than he initially thought should simply turn around, sell those assets to someone else, and invest in a truck instead. Things change; investing is risky. Policies should encourage innovation, not discourage it.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: FinnFPM

                                                                                                                I couldn't agree more, Finn. This is why I've always characterized Dave Andelman, a self-styled pro-business, anti-regulation Republican, as being a nakedly hypocritical crony capitalist in this fight, advocating protectionism through government regulation of an established industry segment -- one that's putting money into both his front and back pockets -- to quash an innovative, upstart competitor.

                                                                                                                I'd bet good money that Dave is planning to enter the political arena as more than just a lobbyist someday.

                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                              2. Dave Andelman shouldn’t be allowed opine about anything regarding the food business. They are fundamentally shills for those who pay. If they can monetize a food truck themselves then you'll see a rapid flip-flop on the matter.

                                                                                                                I’ve watched enough Phantom Gourmet episodes to see a pattern. The show seems to be 99% paid advertising for whatever restaurants pay them. You see the same places turn up as either outright reviews of the establishment or as entries in a themed episode, i.e. Best burgers, best clam shacks, best deep fried goodness, etc. The 1% is “legitimate” review of an unpaid restaurant---just to have some splinter of objectivity.

                                                                                                                1. Food trucks work best and make sense in locations where there are lots of people working during the day and looking for lunch and few people at night looking for dinner. Such places are not fertile ground for restaurants, and so there tend not to be enough of them to serve the lunch crowd efficiently and yummily (you know what i mean).

                                                                                                                  This is true downtown, and it is even more true in the MIT area of Cambridge (though things are changing there of course). In this environment, where there is more demand than there is high-quality supply, food trucks make sense and may not put pressure on restaurants at all.

                                                                                                                  I don't see food trucks where I live in Somerville because we have more residents than daytime workers, and therefore enough restaurants serving dinner, and no demand for food trucks to supplement supply.

                                                                                                                  (Oops I didn't mention the Andelmans.)

                                                                                                                  1. I just realized another good point that shows out what an idiot Andleman is...

                                                                                                                    If you're out for a serious dinner or "client lunch," you're going to go to a full-service restaurant, NOT a food truck. You go to a food truck if you're on your lunch break with limited time to get food and eat, are a college student, or want food after a night of clubbing.

                                                                                                                    And with this in mind, why do people afford him and his show any semblance of "credibility" when he launches this Quixotic viewpoint without an understanding of the types of customers certain eating venues cater to.

                                                                                                                    21 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: SLL1065

                                                                                                                      I think this thread has been blown out of proportion, much like obama's birth certificate. I doubt the bros were comparing food trucks to sit down establishments where people take clients. I think most know the food trucks compete against the small mom and pop delis and places which turn over clients under 30 minutes.
                                                                                                                      If the trucks do pull up in front of a place like trade on congress, they're targeting the business next door. Whether or not they have permits to do so is another topic, and it doesn't seem to stop them either way.

                                                                                                                      1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                        when have you seen a food truck serving outside of trade? one quick call from a manager there would result in much more than a finger wag from the police, the city and the licensing commission.

                                                                                                                        per his idea here: http://somerville.patch.com/articles/...

                                                                                                                        that there be no food trucks within 1000 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant would remove them from almost every boston neighborhood. the lone exception i can think of is the staff meal truck on northern ave that is surrounded by surface parking lots and has removed only 1 curbside parking spot. he makes no distinction between a sub shop or a white tablecloth place.

                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                          As I said before, I and many other Hounds who work in and around Downtown and Back Bay, where most of the gourmet food trucks operate, don't believe the Andelmans' and others' story about this alleged "gypsy" behavior, parking anywhere they want. That's a crock.

                                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                            Back at the beginning of the summer while doing business in the area of trade. Sorry if you don't like the answer but I stand by my statement. This would be a very low priority call by he Boston police. By the time they responded or not, the truck would be gone.

                                                                                                                            1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                              If it was a real issue they could take photo's and send them to the licensing board. No?

                                                                                                                              1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                It's not that I don't like the answer: it's that I don't believe you, or the Andelmans. It's a big part of their argument, yet I've seen zero evidence of it. If this behavior is a regular occurrence, why doesn't somebody take a cameraphone pic? You'd think the offended brick-and-mortars would at least do that. Further, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence of my own that it isn't so.

                                                                                                                                I also frankly don't believe any of these trucks would risk their licenses by parking illegally when they have perfectly good spots to operate out of. This is a fish story: it just doesn't add up.

                                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                  No problem slim if you don't believe me. I am not here to satisfy you. It's not important enough to me to take pictures or report them. I actually wanted to buy something from one of the trucks but he speed off in a hurry as I approached.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                    This is even sillier. If they were setting up in order to do some illicit business, why on earth would they speed away the moment a potential customer walked up? Were you wearing your "Food Truck Police" t-shirt or something?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                      but it's important enough that you bladdy-blah on chow about it, while offering no substantiation? this is really approaching monty python levels of silliness now.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                    You've been asked before to name names and to preferably provide evidence.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                      I just posted a challenge via Twitter and Facebook to the Andelmans and others to come up with proof of their accusation that the new food trucks ever operate outside of the city's tightly-controlled set of locations. "Show me pictures, or GTFO."

                                                                                                                                      One of the Staff Meal Truck chef/owners responded to this: "There's no way that's true of any truck operating in the Boston program. The city has us install GPS devices in our trucks to prevent this. Not to mention that BPD is all over us if we so much as park 10ft from our designated spots."

                                                                                                                                      Take that BPD comment as a food truck operator's perspective if you like, but the fact of GPS tracking by the city seems like a kick in the groin to the notion that they could park anywhere they want.

                                                                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                        I have an email i to Edith Murnane, Director of Food Initiative for the city to ask if there has been any verified violations by licensed food trucks. In addition to MC's challenge for any photo evidence of trucks going gypsy, I think it will slam the door shut on this contention. When the Dave Andelman says something ridiculous like this 1000 ft protection, which would eliminate the program in Boston, you know he's jumped the shark. I'm behind innovative, creative small businesses.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: StevenL57

                                                                                                                                          Between the brick-and-mortar restaurants in front of which the "gypsies" are supposedly parking, the Phantom's legion of fans, and libertywharf, I expect coming up with the proof should be easy, if it exists.

                                                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                          You know slim that the brothers spent minutes on a subject which you have spent days dwelling on.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                            Actually, Dave Andelman has spent days pressing this anti-food-truck campaign on TV and radio (and not just his own shows), in the press, and at the State House: he's trying to get the law changed.

                                                                                                                                            You go ahead and try to trivialize that effort if you like.

                                                                                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                            1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                              no offense, libertywharf, but as much as I respect MC, I don't think he has the weight to carry a thread of this magnitude by himself. More than 30 different hounds have chimed in on over 154 times on this topic, the overwhelming majority of which agree with him and take a stand against the Andelman's trying to muscle the food trucks out of the downtown scene. The importance of the situation is clearly reflected in the community stance and active voices. You can continue to try and downplay this however you like, but knocking MC or how much time is spent discussing this subject is not fueling your stance. Why don't you just come up with the proof that is being suggested to validate the "gypsy truck" claim?

                                                                                                                                        3. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                          It's a bit incoherent that the people who claim these food trucks are illegally parking in places they are not permitted to serve are suggesting that the way to combat this is to change the areas they are permitted to serve. Why would all of these mysterious food truck scofflaws suddenly start obeying restrictions to stay 1,000 feet from restaurants?

                                                                                                                                          And the subject has probably not been blown out of proportion. The debate here is evidence of the fact that people obviously are passionate about the issue.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: FinnFPM

                                                                                                                                            the majority are passionate about the very few spreading lies and trying to paint the trucks with a tarbrush. it's b*******t.

                                                                                                                                            everybody and their nana has a cellphone or smartphone camera. pix would have been posted all over the place, including on tv, if the andelmans actually had anything other than nasty aspersions.

                                                                                                                                            why doesn't libertywharf take some pix and send them to the phantom gourmet?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                              Well hoto, one reason is that I don't work for the bros, another is that I don't care and the last is I'm not a snitch. I thought I was dealing with adults on this forum who are able to discuss things without others liars. If the food trucks want to stop off route, that's their business. I can only count twice and until this thread, I did not even know they were regulated. From the way they used to tweet, I thought they could roam around.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                                So, on the one hand we have the city tracking the food trucks via GPS, the accounts of many Chowhounds who work in the area that they have never seen a truck operating in an illegal spot, and an argument that says that doing so doesn't make sense, as they have legit spots to park and operating outside of them would put their livelihoods at risk.

                                                                                                                                                On the other, we have a single anecdote of one poster who doesn't recall what truck it was, has no photographic evidence despite how easy it would be to produce (same as everyone else making this argument), and wouldn't report it if she saw it anyway because she's not a snitch, and despite 11 posts here and counting (not including the ones the moderators have removed), doesn't really care about the issue anyway.

                                                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                    2. Wasn't the whole Food Truck thing one of Menino's babies that he takes pride in?

                                                                                                                                      Hell hath no fury like a dominating mumbling mayor scorned. Good luck with your future public events permits, purple gloved I'll shill my father for a hot dog and advertisment dollars.

                                                                                                                                      1. At this point, it seems like everything substantial about this topic has been said, and it's devolved into circular arguments. We're going to lock it now.