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29 Catt. 2: In re Rocklands

2014 March 12
by CATTLEYA, J.

Opinion of JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

If you’ve ever gone out for barbeque in the area during the last 20 or so years, chances are you’ve been to (or at the very least thought about going to) Rocklands. From 1990 to 2007, Rocklands opened four brick and mortar locations throughout the District, Virginia, and Maryland. Then, in early 2013, Rocklands launched a food truck.

Rocklands truck, off the road.

Rocklands food truck, off the road for the day.

Once Rocklands added wheels to its operations, this Supreme Cart gained jurisdiction to review not only the food truck but also the brick and mortar locations. See SUNdeVICH v. SUNdeVICH, 22 Catt. 1 (2013) (extending the Cart’s jurisdiction to “a brick-and-mortar restaurant that concurrently operates a food cart or truck when that brick-and-mortar offers the same menu items as the food cart or truck”). With the choice of several locations, I picked a non-mobile one (the brick and mortar in Arlington) over the mobile one because (1) my visit fell on a bitterly cold day, and more importantly, (2) the truck was closed and parked outside in the lot.

Looking at the menu, I immediately noticed an advantage in choosing to dine at one of the brick and mortar locations rather than the food truck. While the truck’s menu rotates side dishes and typically offers only a couple per day, the restaurant menu has a line-up of over ten options, including must-have barbecue sides like coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and potato salad. I found it difficult to pass on the plethora of side dishes and made a meal out of a few: corn pudding, cucumber salad, macaroni salad, and cornbread.

Everything on my plate was perfectly fine, but only the cornbread made me pause and savor. It was sweet, light, fluffy, and moist. The scoop of corn pudding—a baked mash of creamed corn, cornmeal, onion, and cheese—was soft, but not quite creamy. The salad of cucumber, red onion, and mint, with a simple dressing of oil and vinegar, met its promise of a crunchy and refreshing side, but it seemed to skimp on the red onion and mint. The macaroni salad was the most forgettable. The noodles were not overcooked and still had a nice bite, but the salad tasted heavy on mustard and was a little dry.

This court has already held that a barbeque platter with sides is not street food. See In re BBQ Bus, 20 Catt. 1 (2013); see also In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011) (defining street food). Therefore, to affirm, Rocklands’s barbeque sides must prove their own worth. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012) (discussing burden of proof). For the reasons stated above, not all of the sides considered today have met the burden of proof.

The case is

AFFIRMED in part and REMANDED in part to Rocklands for revision. It is so ordered.

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