The Detroit Free Press reports on another encouraging event in the battle for people to sell food from a truck to people who want to eat that food:
[Jeff Aquilina and Justin Kava, owners of Concrete Cuisine] started working to get their license from the Wayne County Health Department -- known for its tough standards -- in the spring.
"It took us three or four months," says Kava, 32, of Livonia. "You had to come up with a plan review, the same as you would with a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. They wanted to see your whole layout. They wanted to know every single piece of equipment -- dimensions, specs, where you're buying it. You have to have a spec sheet for every single thing -- the exact model.
"They wanted to know your food sources and the entire flow of the food. ... We had to say we were getting the chicken, for instance, from U.S. Foods. And then it's, 'OK, you buy your chicken frozen. What's your thawing-out process? How do you cook it? How do you hold it? How do you serve it?' We had to go through every single menu item and do the exact food flow."
And those were only a few of the requirements.
"They say you have to do this, this, this and this," says Aquilina, 35, of Plymouth. "So you go back and do that, and keep redoing it. The final step was the lighting. We didn't have a lighting chart. They wanted to know where the lights are going to be and what's covering the lights."
In my various political discussions, I’m often dragged into the “so you don’t think the government should make sure our food is safe.” That’s a concern pretty far down on my list, but in any event, I’m not exactly sure how the dimensions of a toaster and the placement of a light are relevnt to this concern. Plus, hasn’t anybody eaten at a friend’s house before? We had 10 people over for a barbecue on Saturday. What assurances did those people have that I had cooked the food properly and hadn’t sneezed on it? If anything, food trucks have a greater incentive to take proper safety precautions – they rely heavily on social media, and poisoning your customers is a pretty bad business strategy, especially when you’re all over the internet.
And another point:
There are excruciatingly detailed licensing requirements, quirky problems that real restaurants don't have -- like sloping counters when you park on a hill -- and the challenges of staying open in winter.
Just something to keep in mind when restaurants complain that food trucks have all sorts of “advantages” that require new laws designed to protect established eateries. In Detroit, for example, it’s illegal for a food truck to operate within 100 feet of a restaurant that sells the same goods. You know – the same “distance restrictions” placed on crack dealers and child molesters in relation to playgrounds.
And the icing on the cake:
Aquilina and Kava opened in the suburbs because they were denied a permit to work in Detroit.