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News: December 3, 2013

2013 December 3
by JEREMY, C.J.
Red Hook Lobster Pound

Red Hook Lobster Pound

New Food Truck Lottery’s First Few Days

Last week, we reported on the implementation of the new DC food truck lottery, which began December 1.

Passed by the City Council in June after a protracted, four year-long fight and made final in September, the new regulations led to the establishment of Mobile Roadway Vending (MRV) locations and require that, to vend in a designated MRV location, a food truck must participate in a monthly MRV location permit lottery administered by the DCRA. Food trucks not selected in the lottery for a specific MRV location are permitted to vend elsewhere in the District subject to other requirements, including the requirement that they not be within 200 feet of a designated MRV location.

This week — the first under the new scheme — we’re beginning to see feedback from food truck owners and operators.

The Washington Post reports that, no longer fighting for parking, vendors are “praising” the new regulations. Lily Habtom, owner of Lilypad on the Run, remarked she no longer has to “stress at all about tickets.” And Doug Povich, chairman of the DMV Food Truck Association and co-owner of Red Hook Lobster Pound, was quoted as saying, “The trucks I’ve spoken with today say it’s a much better way” of doing business.

A report by Washington City Paper is less rosy. Food trucks are often forced by the lottery to operate in areas they’d never before and had no established customer base. Those trucks that didn’t win licenses for every day of the week have to scope out alternative locations at least 200 feet from an MRV location. “We’re glad to see the D.C. government getting involved,” said TaKorean manager Elizabeth Cramer. “My only hesitation is that . . . food trucks came about because it’s a great idea to take good food where people want it. So when you restrict that, you’re restricting business potential.”

Some food trucks worry about how to alter their business plans, or at least retrain their customers, another Post piece says.

But Robert Estep, owner of Burgorilla and What the Pho?, guesses that any loss from the inability to sell near an established customer base may be balanced by savings on parking tickets, Washingtonian reports.

What have you observed? How will the new system play out? Let us know in the comments.

Pepito de Iberico.

Pepito de Iberico.

José Andrés Opens a New Food Truck…

…on a golf course in Puerto Rico. Eater reports the truck will offer a burger, a hot dog, a club sandwich, and “some tapas-esque appetizers” to patrons of the Dorado Beach Resort and Club, where Andrés already operates a restaurant. No word on whether the truck will offer the $20 Pepito de Ibérico, which we reviewed last October.

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