cityretail

Food Trucks

In Restaurant News, Retail Thoughts on July 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Food trucks have been getting a lot of buzz in Boston of late. Actually, food trucks have been gaining a lot of attention and momentum in America’s most exciting cities for the last couple of years (NYC, LA, SF, Seattle, Austin, etc.). What’s interesting about the recent buzz in Boston is that it’s from the City’s Mayor and City Council.

One of Boston’s most well known food trucks is Clover, which started operating out Kendall Square in October 2008. Last month Clover started service out of a second truck in Dewey Square, which is at the southern-most tip of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Clover’s Boston spot has been a huge hit and the honorable Mayor Menino is a fan. In a July 13th speech he spoke about food trucks, specifically IDing Clover, and announced the “Food Truck Challenge,” which will be a sort of food truck business plan competition with the winner getting a spot on City Hall Plaza. Shortly after the Mayor’s speech, City Council President Michael Ross ordered for a hearing regarding “mobile restaurants industry licensing and regulations.” Here’s the link: Food Truck Order for Hearing. On July 14th, the Boston Globe reported that Ross expressed a belief that the City could support 50 – 100 food trucks. (read more)

All of this is very cool; and even cooler for Clover, which is at the center of all of this buzz. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been working as Clover’s leasing attorney for almost a year. I worked closely with Ayr, Clover founder, on his first restaurant in Harvard Square (opening later this year) and I’ve seen a snap-shot of the incredible effort and team that goes into making Clover what it is. This unique perspective combined with my knowledge of some serious opposition to food trucks from retailers and restaurants makes me question if the addition of 50 – 100 food trucks in Boston is a good thing. We cannot expect every truck to be as socially (very healthy) and environmentally (very local) responsible as Clover nor is it fair to use Clover as measuring stick; regardless, the City should be diligent and thoughtful in thinking about the effect 50+ food trucks will have on existing restaurants, existing neighborhoods and existing micro-economies.

I applaud Menino and Ross for being open-minded and for taking a serious look at the benefits of food trucks. Like the Mayor, I’m a big Clover fan too.

  1. just want to give a shout out to the portland oregon food truck scene. i was there in the spring and it seems that any empty lot near a business district is filling up with food trucks serving quick gourmet meals. the one on N. Mississippi had about 10 trucks with a common eating area in the middle. Portland is too often forgotten when people are mentioning important west coast cities..

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