DC Mayor Vincent Gray Proposes Food Truck Regulations to Hurt Small Businesses

DC Mayor Vincent Gray has proposed cruel food truck regulations that would severely hurt small business owners in the District. If the outrageous rules pass, food trucks will be illegal in most of downtown DC and the dreams of countless entrepreneurs will be crushed. Food trucks would be banned on all streets marked red:

(Map above provided by the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington)

The mayor may claim these food truck regulations are about protecting public safety, but it’s really about making the big lobbyists happy.

The boom of the food truck industry in recent years has been a huge plus for the city. These small businesses offer residents a wide selection of food, create hundreds of jobs, and improve the experience of living in the District. The trucks have become a big tourist attraction and residents enjoy the convenience of being able to quickly buy their lunch on the street.

The beauty of food trucks is that there is a relatively low barrier to entry as it requires less financial commitment than brick and mortar restaurants. This enables entrepreneurs with big dreams but not a lot of cash to create their own business. The chefs in the food trucks are able to experiment with new and creative dishes to see what works and what doesn’t.

Not everyone is pleased with the food truck revolution, however. Mayor Gray should be thrilled that DC residents have more food choices, but he is instead siding with restaurant lobbyists who want to restrict food choice and competition. Many restaurants lobby the government for strict regulations on food trucks because they want to force their competition out of business.

Here are what some owners of DC food trucks have to say about the harmful regulations:

“These regulations will kill the food truck industry in the city as we know it,” says Curbside Cupcakes co-owner Kristi Whitfield. “It will be smaller. It will be dispersed out to lord knows where.”

“I’ll have to shut it down. The point of opening up any business is to make money”, says PORC food truck co-owner Josh Saltzman. “And with these rules, we can’t sustain business.”

Cirque Cuisine co-owner Sean Swartz says, “I’m a D.C. native, and I’ve spent my whole life here, and it kind of sucks that D.C. is pushing out small businesses like this…if it really starts to hamper our business, we’re going to leave.”

(Testimony collected by Jessica Sidman of the Washington City Paper)

Red Hook Lobster Pound co-owner Doug Povich says,

Two years ago, I started the Red Hook Lobster Pound because I wanted to be a part of the new food truck scene here and to bring a taste of Maine to DC. I was intrigued by a business model that allowed a relatively low cost entry into the food services industry and was excited to see the smiles on the faces of our loyal customers.

Today, my food truck is being pushed towards extinction. Mayor Gray’s proposed regulations would base my business’ success and failure on the luck of winning a lottery rather than on the quality of our food.

All of these food truck entrepreneurs made big sacrifices to start their own business. My heart aches for all of these small business owners and their families if they are forced to shut down due to the Mayor’s rules.

It is a shame that Mayor Vincent Gray wants to hurt small business owners and limit consumer choice in the city. DC residents: Contact Mayor Vincent Gray and tell him to stand up for small businesses and residents, not big lobbyists.

Phone number: (202) 727-6300

Twitter: @MayorVinceGray

Email: eom@dc.gov