Browsing articles tagged with " food carts"
Dec 12, 2014
Kim Rivers

Food Truck Stops: December 11

Happy Thursday, food truck followers! It’s pretty chilly outside, so warm up with chicken gyros from Mediterranean Delights or a variety of lasagnas aboard Basil Thyme.

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Capitol Hill (First and C sts., SE), where you’ll find TaKorean and Tasty Kabob.

Farragut Square (17th and I sts., NW), where you’ll find DC Slices, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Sate Truck, and SOL Mexican Grill.

Franklin Square (13th and K sts., NW), where you’ll find DC Slices.

Friendship Heights (Western and Wisconsin Aves., NW), where you’ll find Hungry Heart.

L’Enfant (Sixth St. and Maryland Ave., SW), where you’ll find Crepes Parfait, DC Slices, Ooh Dat Chicken, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and SOL Mexican Grill.

Metro Center (12th and G sts., NW), where you’ll find Pedro Vinny’s, Phonation, Sate Truck, and Yumpling.

Navy Yard (First and M sts., SE), where you’ll find DC Pollo.

NoMa (First and M sts., NE), where you’ll find Basil Thyme and Carolina Q.

Northern Virginia, where you’ll find Borinquen Lunch Box (Alexandria), Choupi Crepes, Fava Pot , Willie’s Po’ Boy (Rosslyn), Mediterranean Delights (Ballston), Tasty Kabob, and Tortuga (Tysons).

Patriot’s Plaza (Third and E sts., SW), where you’ll find Feelin’ Crabby, Pars Kabob, and Popped! Republic.

State Department (around 21st St. and Virginia Ave., NW), where you’ll find Kafta Mania, and Ooh Dat Chicken.

20th and L Streets, Northwest, where you’ll find Kalaveras.

Union Station (North Capitol St. and Massachusetts Ave., NE), where you’ll find South Meets East and Tasty Kabob.

Too many good trucks to decide? Check out our guide to the Top 25 Food Trucks in Washington and the Wheelie Awards for best individual dishes, deals, and more.

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Dec 12, 2014
Kim Rivers

City council delays food truck vote again

For the second consecutive meeting, the Bloomington City Council chose to postpone voting on a new ordinance regulating food trucks and mobile food vendors. With support from the administration, the council unanimously voted to delay voting on the ordinance until the first 
quarter of next year.

“I feel very strongly that there are additional issues that have arisen during this discussion that are sort of are beyond what even staff could have foreseen,” council member Andy Ruff said after motioning to defer the vote.

Food vendors attending the meeting sat silent, even after two proposals of public comment.

Delaying the vote causes a restart of legislation with introductory first readings, subsequent meetings and a new ordinance number, council president Darryl Neher said.

The ordinance creates operating rules for food trucks and mobile vendors working in the city. Under the ordinance, they may not operate less than 50 feet from the facade or outdoor seating of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They cannot park in city spots without permission from the Board of Public Works and are prohibited from operating on the B-Line Trail. These businesses may operate 24 hours a day on private property. They are prohibited from operating on public property between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and would be enforced with all other rules by officers hired by the city.

“There were a variety of amendments that many members wanted to introduce,” council member Stephen Vollo said in expressing agreement to delay the vote.

Those amendments include creating regulations for the food trucks and mobile vendors to abide by sound ordinances, specifically how loud the vendors’ generators would be allowed to run. At previous meetings, it was proposed that generators be no louder than 70 decibels at four feet, but was rejected after the council could not agree on whether or not that was an acceptable level of sound.

“I would like to explore the idea of pods,” council member Susan Sandberg said in reference to public areas where all food trucks could be parked, another revision to the ordinance the council has suggested at previous meetings, to which food truck vendors have agreed.

Another ordinance regarding permits for food trucks and mobile vendors was also up for vote. The council chose to strike down the ordinance. Now, passing permit regulations would cause other types of businesses whose 
definitions are removed and replaced with food truck and mobile vendors in the first ordinance, to be regulated.

When proposed next year, the votes on the regulations must take place by 
March 2015.

Daily Briefing

43° | 30° Sunny

Here are today’s editor picks.

- Track Hoosier Open all day
-  Union Board “Yule Ball,” Alumni Ball at 8 p.m.

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Dec 12, 2014
Kim Rivers

Cities struggle to develop fair food-truck rules

As the food-truck trend continues to grow, cities across the country are struggling to develop regulations that treat the restaurants-on-wheels and their brick-and-mortar counterparts fairly.

Food trucks are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the restaurant industry, with sales of almost $700 million in 2013, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Proponents say they provide affordable, diverse and easily accessible cuisine to consumers. But opponents say they pose a threat to long-established restaurants.

“There’s a lot of confusion,” said Matt Geller, CEO of the National Food Truck Association and the Southern California Mobile Vendors Association.

It’s a scene being played out across the country, as municipalities attempt to address the question of where and for how long food trucks can park – without negatively affecting other businesses in the area.

In Palm Springs, Calif., officials chose this week to table a decision on how to regulate food trucks in their city and instead extended a ban against them for another year, citing a need to get more input from stakeholders and look at additional safety provisions.

“The county just changed the law so that they’re allowed on public streets, but cities can regulate it,” Palm Springs City Manager David Ready said. “They are allowed (on private property) and will be allowed (on public property), we just have to come up with a set-up that regulates where they can be.”

But the ban puts the city in conflict with state law that allows food trucks on public property right now, Geller said.

“They’re trying to supersede state law,” said Geller. “If I were so inclined, that wouldn’t be a hard lawsuit.”

Chicago has established regulations but is facing legal backlash from truck owners who say they are too strict.

A 2012 lawsuit filed by Laura Pekarik, owner of mobile cupcake shop Cupcakes for Courage, accuses the city of discriminating against food trucks by requiring them to be tracked by GPS and parked 200 feet away from any other business selling food.

“Because of the city’s high density, it makes it practically impossible for food trucks to operate downtown,” said Bert Gall, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, the entrepreneur advocacy group representing Pekarik.

Such restrictions are an attempt by the city to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants that would potentially suffer from the increased competition, Gall said,

“​That’s a story you see played out in city after city, big and small,” Gall said.

Some municipalities have addressed the concerns.

Officials in the District of Columbia last year established a food truck lottery system that mobile food vendors can enter to “win” parking spots at popular locations like the National Mall each month.

And in Des Moines, Iowa, city officials expect to launch a pilot program this spring that would allow food trucks to park on some public properties.

By revamping their food-truck laws, they hope to avoid the convoluted regulations of other municipalities like Los Angeles, whose overlapping public health regulations, municipal on-street regulations, and zoning codes were once not only confusing, but badly enforced, Geller said.

“There was a lot of confusion on what the actual regulations are,” Geller said. “There were regulations being enforced that didn’t exist, regulations being enforced that weren’t constitutional, polices that didn’t fit with the codes that they were enforcing – the government took too many liberties.”

With the growth of food trucks, it’s no wonder that many cities are still in the dark when it comes to shaping the appropriate legislation.

“This came out of nowhere,” Geller said, “and forming good policy on something you’ve never dealt with before is tough.”

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Dec 12, 2014
Tim Lester

Chinese street food chain makes a ‘bing’ impression in Australia – FoodNavigator

Ming Liang Ma has so far taken his Bing Boy urban Asian crepe stores from one test location in a South Australian food court to more than 30 around Australia.

To establish and develop a franchise, it’s always been my passion to do that,” said Ming, Bing Boy’s Adelaide-based managing director.

Ming’s determination has been rewarded with growth of 204% in 2014, earning Bing Boy second place on the In-business Fast Movers ranking. According to In-business, the company had a a turnover of A$4,871,940 in the year.

Jian bing, a sort of folded Chinese pancake, is a popular breakfast street food in Beijing and the rural area that surrounds it.

After cutting his teeth in other food franchises, Ming had the idea to introduce the jian bing, with some modern twists, to a new audience in Australia.

Bing itself as a product is absolutely new on the market,” said Ming. “It has some similarities with the French crepe, it’s a little similar to giros as a wrap, but the combination of how we cook it, how we wrap it and deliver it to the customer, that’s quite new.”

Bing Boy has undergone a measured yet rapid expansion since the first store opened in Southern Cross Arcade in Adelaide in June 2011, growing to 14 stores in its first two years.

That more than doubled in 2013-14 to 30 stores, made up of 14 in South Australia, 14 in Victoria and three in Queensland. Over the next year, Ming wants to see another 20 restaurants open across Australia, and he recently opened his first standalone shop in the refurbished Rundle Mall in Adelaide.

Before we even opened the first store, I had planned it as a franchise business,” he said. “When we designed the store, the logo, the name and everything, it’s all related to the franchise’s expansion down the track.”

The first store served as a test for the ideas at the foundation of Bing Boy.  When the second store opened, it took off, which gave Ming the confidence to expand.

There are a lot of things you can’t predict. Even though my teams and I sat down with a designer and went through marketing materials, design, layout, operations, there’s a lot we changed,” Ming said.

One of the first areas to come under scrutiny was their packaging. After observing the messy process of wrangling a bing in its plain wrapping paper, the team came up with perforated paper that tears off in stages as the customer makes their way through a meal.

We develop as we grow. Even now we are still changing a lot of things in terms of operations and design,” Wang says.

Their second and third years marked Bing Boy’s larger expansions interstate. He admits this was a challenge, something that defied conventional wisdom on the topic.

We keep hearing people say if you can run a business in Adelaide and be successful, you can be successful anywhere else in the country. I have a bit of a different view.

Because we’re locals in Adelaide we feel we know the market more. When we move to other states there are certainly a lot of opportunities, no question, but the competition, understanding the market and location geographically, that requires a lot more work.”

Recruiting franchisees will become a major focus over the coming years. The last few had Bing Boy concentrating on operating the business and developing the systems, but that attention is shifting.

Ming understands that key to a franchise’s success is growth and presence—in its case, through franchisees. Tempering that, however, is upholding the brand’s image and standards.

We are always trying to find a better franchisee system. We have two interviews as well as psychological testing. The second part is training. There’s online and office training as well as on-site training, and ongoing training once they’ve started.

“Further to that we have a supervisor to help a franchisee open a store, to sort of hold their hands to get it settled. We also have external consultants give them three-, six- and 12-month reviews to make sure they understand not only operating a store, but also the HR and business areas,” he said.

There’s the further requirement that a franchisee have to be hands-on owner-operators within the business, rather than an outside investor, and are expected to put in at least 30 hours a week in their stores. To save drama, perhaps, there’s also the caveat that stores have to be solely owned, or within immediate family.

Ming’s other challenge has been to grow awareness of the Bing Boy brand. The trouble, he says, is that people talk about their product, the bing, more than the name of the chain.

We’ve been working on brand positioning. We want to work on what Bing Boy means to consumers rather than the bing product itself,” Ming said.

This is the result of two things. First, that the product is entirely new on the market. Ming isn’t trying to sell another burger or sushi shop, where the brand name is the distinguishing factor. He’s selling a food new to the market where the product itself is what distinguishes it from competitors.

Secondly, the initial challenge was selling people on the idea of the bing. And in that, Ming and his team have been very successful.

There are some people who are willing to try new things. There are also people cautious about what they eat. The way we have solved that is by giving a lot of samples to the customer. We found that so far, that’s the most successful local marketing we’ve done.

Bing Boy’s marketing efforts are being redoubled in the coming year. Their challenge is that, as a younger, smaller brand than most on the market, they probably can’t compete in the channels popular with the big chains.

A commercial wouldn’t be our first preference—we prefer local marketing. The sampling alone works out really well for us, but the brand awareness is still pretty low.

When we get the customer to experience and try the product, we then need them to acknowledge there is a Bing Boy store in the sense that it’s a place. That’s something we need to work hard on,” he says.

Bing Boy is also be experimenting with an on-street location rather than its usual food court model. It launched its first street store on November 29, in Rundle Street in the Adelaide CBD.

We carefully consider locations for all Bing Boy stores, which have traditionally been confined to shopping centres and food courts. So developing a street store is something new for us, but is something we’re really excited about as we think it will give us more of a presence in Adelaide

Rundle Street is one of Adelaide’s busiest and most popular places to eat, drink and shop, so we’re looking forward to tapping into that and introducing our popular bings to a new band of customers.” 

For Ming and his team it’s an exciting chance to try new things. Longer trading hours and different locations will give them a whole new perspective on the business’ expansion.

We have to have innovation all along the way,” said Ming. “Otherwise the business will die.”

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Dec 11, 2014
Kim Rivers

Two weeks remaining of food truck congregations in Buffalo

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  Food trucks will be making their second to last appearance for a fundraiser for a local school Tuesday.

A host of food trucks will be at 4660 Sheridan Drive in Williamsville to support the religious school of Congregation Shir Shalom.

The event will run between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Great Foodini, Philly Flattop, Sassi Cakes appeared.

 

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Dec 10, 2014
Kim Rivers

Freeport offers ‘very narrow opening’ for food trucks

FREEPORT, Maine — The Town Council approved a zoning amendment that gives food trucks what one official called a “very narrow opening” to operate in some parts of town.

The amendment, which was recommended by the Planning Board, adds the definition of “artisan food and beverage” providers to the town’s zoning ordinance to describe small-scale food-and-drink establishments that may run food trucks as accessory uses in specific zoning districts.

The trucks, however, will continue to be banned in the busy downtown Village Commercial Districts 1-4.

Food trucks will be allowed in Commercial Districts 1, 3, and 4, the Local Business District, Industrial Districts 1 and 2, and Medium Density Districts A and B. A zoning map can be found on the Freeport town website.

Councilors on Dec. 2 approved the zoning amendment 4-2, with Councilors Andy Wellen and Kristina Egan opposed. It will go into effect after the Dec. 17 council meeting, where a fee structure will be established.

Wellen said he wants the fees to be high, so that brick-and-mortar restaurants that pay property taxes aren’t disadvantaged.

“I think we would need to have a level playing field with food trucks,” Egan agreed.

The zoning amendment also includes many standards for the accessory food trucks.

They must be on the same property as the parent business, and only one food truck will be allowed on a property at any time. Up to three food trucks may be allowed if the town gives permission, but the trucks can’t be at that location for more than three days and this exception can only be allowed three times a year.

Food trucks must be on private property, unless the town makes an exception for a special event. Food trucks can only be open when the host business is open, but will be limited to 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Truck operators will not be allowed to verbally solicit pedestrians and sales can’t be made to people in vehicles. Also, food trucks can’t have exterior lighting, unless it is to illuminate a menu. Signs, except for any that identify the name of the business, aren’t allowed on food trucks and no amplified noises will be allowed to come from the trucks.

All equipment must be contained inside the food truck and no furniture or seating will be allowed. The only exceptions are for one trash can and one recycling can, both of which will be required. The businesses will also be required to pick up all trash within a 25-foot radius of the trucks, and must provide access to restrooms.

Food trucks must be registered with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and licensed by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Businesses wishing to use a food truck must also obtain a license from Freeport’s code enforcement officer.

Food trucks that will be selling at more than nine special events in Freeport must also obtain victualer’s licenses from the town. This does not apply to private catering events or parties where a resident hires a food truck.

The zoning amendment first came before the Planning Board earlier this fall at the request of the Maine Beer Co. at 525 U.S. Route 1. It had asked the Project Review Board for permission to have a food truck at its brewery during the summer, but the board didn’t have the authority to grant the company’s request.

Town Planner Donna Larson said that while the amendment has many restrictions, businesses like Maine Beer Co. will now have the option to offer food.

“It’s a very narrow opening for food trucks,” Larson said.

 

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Dec 10, 2014
Kim Rivers

Palm Springs City Council extends ban on food trucks

Even though other Coachella Valley cities have moved forward with laws to allow food trucks, Palm Springs extended its moratorium on the mobile vending vehicles for another year.

“Are we just kicking this can down the road so we don’t have to deal with it?” Mayor Steve Pougnet casually asked the city staff at last week’s Palm Springs City Council meeting when the 5-member panel approved the extended moratorium.

“We have to deal with this issue. And I’m going to support it,” the mayor said of the ban. “But we’ve been dealing with this for a very long time.”

City officials say they need more time to work through legal concerns and “stakeholders wanted additional input,” said David Ready, Palm Springs city manager.

“I certainly don’t think it will take a year, however,” Ready added.

In December 2013, Riverside County enacted legislation to set up a system for food trucks to be properly permitted and inspected, with the idea that each city would establish another set of rules regarding where the businesses could operate or other concerns. That move went into effect in April.

In March, Palm Springs passed a six-month moratorium on food trucks to give city officials time to draft an ordinance. Then in September, the council delayed taking any action on a draft ordinance until council members’ suggestions and comments could be included. The council extended the ban on food trucks until December. That ban has now been extended for up to 12 more months.

The proposed ordinance would have restricted food trucks from Palm Canyon Drive between Alejo and Ramon roads. However, trucks could park on the east side of Indian Canyon Drive and the west side of Belardo Road.

Also, the proposed hours of operation would be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., which provoked outcry on social media, with residents saying 9 p.m. is far too early to shut down food trucks.

Mindy Reed, who operates two restaurants on Palm Canyon Drive and serves on the Palm Springs Main Street board and the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, disputed the mayor’s summary.

“No, we are not just ‘kicking the can down the road,’ but working together to come up with an ordinance that works best for our community,” Reed said in an email this week.

Reed stressed the locations where food trucks would be allowed need to be well thought-out to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians.

“We already have problems with jaywalking and pedestrian safety in the valley. We don’t want to open more proverbial ‘doors’ for additional accidents,” Reed said.

Wayne Woodliff, who operates Woody’s Burgers on Indian Canyon Drive and a food truck in San Diego, said he has not been in any consultation with the city or other restaurants regarding drafting the ordinance.

“They have no idea what they’re doing. Or what they want to do. And they’re going to exercise their right to do nothing as long as they possibly can,” Woodliff said.

Cathedral City hosts a First Sundays Gourmet Food Truck Fare on the first Sunday of each month in front of Cathedral City Hall. The event is adjacent to the city’s farmers’ market and will run through May. The event hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Dec 10, 2014
Tim Lester

South Indian street food, groceries at San Rafael’s Lotus Chaat & Spices

One of the most delightful things about traveling in India or Southeast Asia is the street food. It’s sold everywhere. From bite-sized snacks to bowls of soup and savory pastries, a world of taste adventures is available for pennies.

Finding a restaurant in San Rafael that specializes in street food is a treat. That the street food reflects one of the world’s most interesting, vegetable-oriented cuisines – South Indian – is even better.

Lotus Chaat Spices on the West End of downtown San Rafael has been in business five years. It’s part of the privately owned Lotus group of restaurants (also includes Lotus Cuisine on East Fourth Street, and Lotus Café in Fairfax), but has its own distinct character, thanks to the fact that this eatery not only serves South Indian dishes, but it also features an Indian grocery store on the premises.

In the last couple of years, Lotus Chaat has expanded its menu to start serving Indian pizzas, a unique sideline that has amped up its popularity (in particular with students from nearby Marin Academy).

The atmosphere is as vibrant as the spice palette. A visually resonant paint job of tangerine/mango and teal is a wake-up call for the eyes. Paintings of Indian countryside scenes, or portraits and other photographs, add more exotica.

Chairs and tables are wood; the chairs are hard. Bring your own cushion if you need padding. In nicer weather, the outdoor tables on the expanded sidewalk are a nice place to sit and watch the action in downtown San Rafael’s West End.

There are various meats – chicken, lamb, shrimp and fish – prepared in a range of possibilities, but I think this cuisine comes into its own as a vegetarian or vegan experience.

Indian pizzas ($9.99-13.99 small, $18.99-$24.99 large), the new house specialty, are true fusion food. A housemade wheat, thin-crust pizza dough amped up with turmeric and herbs is layered with Indian-spiced ingredients. One of the best is the house special, with its rich, complex topping of curried spinach, cauliflower, mushroom, cilantro, green and red onion, ginger and garlic under a blanketing melt of mozzarella. The spice is mild yet distinctive; this combo of ingredients becomes one of the most interesting flatbreads you’ve ever had, yet unlike anything you’re likely to have had. I was impressed.

Classic street foods include the distinctive dahi puri ($7.99). Four translucent, crunchy bite-sized pastry shells are filled with mashed potatoes, a bit of chili, lightly sweetened yogurt and topped with wispy, crispy lentil noodles.

There’s a kaleidoscopic quality to the way the different textures and spices play out in each dish. Take a salad-like street snack called bean sprout bhel ($8.99). Raw bean sprouts are mixed with ovals of puffed rice, cooked diced potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peanuts, tamarind and mint sauces. Each mouthful has so much going on in terms of contrasting textures and flavors that jump from sweet to tangy to savory to citrusy to spicy, there’s a stop-you-in-your-tracks quality to the experience of eating it.

Dosas – huge, crepe-like pancakes made of lentil flour – are a house specialty. While they are typically served with your choice of filling rolled up inside, I asked for the filling on the side, so I could scoop a bit with a piece of dosa and eat like a taco. This way the pancake stayed crispier. But if you’re a traditionalist, get it stuffed.

The dosas come with small bowls of thick coconut chutney and bowls of soupy, lentil and tomato sambar that has just enough kick to wake up your mouth, but not so much spice that it’s painful. Varieties include everything from the traditional, served with an egg, or a spiced potato mixture, saag paneer, eggplant bartha, to versions that mix lamb and spinach, chicken and mushrooms or shrimp and broccoli, to name a few.

These Indian crepes range in price from $9.99 to $14.99. One order makes a solid meal for an individual; two could make a feast out of a shared one plus a couple of smaller items such as sambar or dahi vada ($7-8.99), deep-fried savory lentil donuts served in that soupy lentil curry or a spiced yogurt.

Salads include a meal-sized combination of mixed greens with tandoori-grilled tofu, roasted almonds, avocado, red onion and curry vinaigrette. It’s much more interesting than the salads available in a typical Indian restaurant.

More fusion shows up in Indian-style wraps and burritos that combine thin flatbreads with stuffings such as ground lamb, spiced marinated chicken, prawns or vegetarian options.

Other qualities I loved about Lotus Chaat: Much of the ingredients are listed as organic. There are unusual sodas and other drinks from India, including classic Mango lassi and chai tea. The Indian Grocery store component is fascinating in itself. You can get a variety of bean flours, spices, cookies, teas, grains, all sorts of esoteric items, like Fijian spices, that we rarely see in regular American stores. There are also frozen foods such as Indian fish and Indian ice creams, and the restaurant sells its own organic ghee, available in small and large sizes, and dosa batter to take home and make yourself.

If you are used to Northern Indian cuisine, try Lotus Chaat. The prices are moderate to low, the portions are large and the food, quite frankly, is fun to eat because of all the textures and unusual flavors.

Lotus Chaat Spices is at 1559 Fourth St., San Rafael. Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Buffet champagne brunch available on Sunday. Lotus Chaat’s “Chai Club” offers specials on chai tea between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., with order of one main dish and another one half off. For more information call (415) 454-6887 or visit lotuschaat.com.

Contact Leslie Harlib at lharlib@gmail.com.

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Dec 10, 2014
Kim Rivers

Eating it up: "Share the Love" food truck event

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – A holiday feast is under way Wednesday in Kearny Mesa.

The fourth annual “Share the Love” food truck event raises money for San Diego’s Meals On Wheels program.

In this CBS News 8 video story, Jeff Zevely finds out what’s on the menu.

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