Reporting Bill Hudson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s hardly the weather for eating outside. But come spring, comes a return of the food trucks to downtown Minneapolis streets.
“You can’t really find this kind of food in the skyway food shops, stuff like that,” one food truck customer said.
The skyway, just above 6th and Marquette, is becoming a ground zero in the food truck fight. It’s here where the trucks tend to concentrate on warm summer days. Problem is, they are lined up just below a skyway filled with brick and mortar restaurants.
“It’s not an issue of competition,” Doug Sams said.
He’s been a restaurant owner in Minneapolis for 26 years. Sams says the trucks add value to both customers and the city. But for a two-block stretch of Marquette, between 6th and 8th streets, they’ve become too much of a good thing.
“Because the trade area is so small for people downtown when all the concentration is on Marquette Avenue, it disproportionately affects the nearby businesses,” Sams said.
“Well, I just feel they should level the playing field,” adds Steve Barnier.
His family runs the popular Dave’s Downtown in the skyway at 9th and Marquette. While he admits their business hasn’t been terribly impacted by the food trucks, he feels for the many others that have been.
Barnier was among a couple dozen restaurant owners who met Wednesday to discuss the food truck problem and possible solutions.
The group is hoping to convince city leaders to review the current food truck ordinance and make changes to protect property tax-paying businesses.
That might include limiting the number of trucks per block. The effect would be to spread out the competition along a wider downtown area.
“If they regulated them and moved them around a bit it would be better for the customer, as well,” Barnier said. “Because people need to eat, that’s what we’re here for and that’s what the food trucks are here for.”
Truck owners say they’re just doing what the ordinance allows — it will be up to city leaders to decide if the ordinance needs tweaking.