Three heartwarming stories from the front lines of the war on people in a truck who would like to give you a sandwich or a gyro in exchange for money:
Story One: Seeing the success of food trucks here in DC, the DC lottery decided to jump into the mobile vending business with a DC Lottery truck. Only one problem:
D.C. Lottery's Lucky Lottery Mobile isn't exactly living up to its name.
The 26-foot truck debuted recently but won't be able cash in on the food truck craze as planned by parking alongside the city's squares and selling lottery products to the huge lunch crowds drawn by the meals-on-wheels mobiles.
It turns out the lottery truck is more than 7 feet too long under city law to operate as a street vendor vehicle.
Which was a problem, because DC paid $32,600 to lease the current truck through Sept. 30. So what did DC officials do? They said the rules didn’t apply to the lottery truck, of course:
The D.C. Lottery truck is finally on a roll, as two District agencies have ruled that the vehicle can park on city streets and alongside squares even though it's 7 feet over the legal limit that applies to other mobile vendors.
Innovative trucks in the District can skirt regulations, [DC food truck consultant Kyle] Johnson said, and what laws -- if any -- the non-food vendors must follow is unclear.
"It still does seem like the D.C. Lottery truck is getting a special pass to be able to vend," Johnson said.
Just a hunch, but this might have something to do with the exemption: From the DC Lottery website:
Since the Lottery's inception in 1982, our total contribution has been over $1.6 billion to the District's General Fund.
Story Two: Since crime in the District has been reduced to below zero (“muggings” now include local youths throwing money at you and giving you iPhones), MPD has been reduced to launching surprise lunchtime “training exercises” and “inspections” of the food trucks. One of these took place the other week near Union Station. Apparently, a couple trucks – including my favorite truck, Carnivore BBQ – didn’t have the proper paperwork, and were sent home for the day. Which led to this irritated tweet in the aftermath:
Sorry all we need paperwork that we thought the bureaucrats would give us but apparently we have to get it. Therefore no BBQ 4 u today.
So I asked BBQ guy what went down. He explained that his health license was expired by two days, he thought the renewal paperwork would be sent to him, and didn’t realize he had to go physically pick up the paperwork. He must not be very familiar with the DC government.
But the real kicker is who apparently called the cops to trigger this “papers please!” inspection: a rival food truck operator.
Capitalism: DC style.
While other food truck operators in downtown Detroit have set up shop without permits, Anthony Curis and Doug Runyon, co-owners of El Guapo, made dozens of trips to City Hall to find a path to legality.
Curis said he visited City Hall about 60 times over the past six months, working closely with Kim James, director of the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, to secure a locale to operate legally.
And those 60 (sixty!) trips to City Hall earned them the right to do this:
Eventually, the truck will operate from morning to evening. The temporary permit allows it to operate only in the Greektown parking lot.
The operators also are seeking permission to operate in Midtown and closer to the baseball and football stadiums, Curis said.
The above links are filled with sad bits, like El Guapo co-founder Doug Runyon saying the city of Detroit has been “great,” the scary proposition that this could become a “model” for future food trucks, and another entrepreneur bluntly declaring that the hoop-jumping just isn’t worth it.