Food Trucks in Portland Maine Barely Scraping By

Portland, Maine recently hosted two food trucks as part of the Food network’s “Great Food Truck Race”, though both trucks had to be granted special temporary city ordinances in order to operate. Presently, Portland forbids food trucks and any other mobile vendors to operate within the city.

However, recent negotiations between the City Council may change this ordinance to allow food trucks to operate within Portland, though not without some serious restrictions. Under the proposed ordinance food trucks will only be able to operate within very limited spaces, and will be required to stay 200 feet away from any brick-and-mortar restaurant. Ultimately it will be very difficult for food trucks to find parking in commercial areas and be able to serve crowds.

Some food trucks may be able to sustain their businesses this way, but the vast majority will not be able to compete for parking spaces and thrive off of the meager customers they might attract. This new regulation is designed with the interests of restaurants in mind, and aims to protect them from increased food truck competition.

Councilor David Marshall essentially agreed that it would be difficult for food trucks to operate with this new ordinance. “I don’t expect to see a huge number of food trucks. It’s going to be a challenging business to operate.”

Portland City Council members are under the impression that restaurants have an inherent disadvantage to food trucks because of their lack of mobility, and thus the government is necessary to rectify these advantages. However restaurants have many advantages over food trucks as well. Restaurants have much bigger kitchens than food trucks, with bigger menus as well; they have more storage for inventory, proper seating areas for customers to dine-in, and the protection of a brick-and-mortar location to shield them from seasonal changes.

However the Portland government still seeks to protect restaurants from food trucks, rather than looking at successful food truck cities like Los Angeles, Austin and Washington D.C.  In other cities food truck have not caused restaurants to go out of business, but rather improved the overall dining scene by urging restaurants to improve on their selections. There is also a large crossover between restaurant and food truck owners, as many successful food trucks establish brick-and-mortar locations, and many successful restaurants develop food trucks for marketing purposes.

Food trucks are doing what little they can to fight back against some of these ordinances, with federal courts becoming involved on occasion. Food trucks argue against protectionist laws that limit their ability to achieve success apart from arbitrary government influence. Although Portland has come a long way in simply allowing food trucks to operate within the city, they will fail to replicate the successful food truck models in other cities in which restaurants and food trucks coexist.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here:


Some Cities Allow Food Trucks, Others Just Ban Them

The small town of Zillah, Washington has recently banned food trucks from operating in a unanimous City Council decision. The small city has a population of 2,770, but feels that food trucks pr ‘taco wagons’ have an unfair advantage over businesses that pay property taxes. Zillah officials are also concerned about traffic problems that may arise from mobile vendors, and potential health issues.

Mayor Gary Clark anticipated the rise of food trucks in this town, and placed a temporary moratorium on them last summer. According to Clark, “My request came from looking around at other communities and seeing them pop up. I thought maybe it’s something we need to get ahead of. Personally, I don’t really care for the mobile vendors. They come in, set up shop and don’t pay taxes. They’re here today and gone tomorrow.”

Councilman Kevin Russell affirmed this statement, “The main thing is we want to protect public safety, make sure all businesses are on the same playing field.” Zillah has recently experienced a growth in its Latino population, but council members say demographics have nothing to do with this ordinance. The ordinance was not meant to affect small ice cream vendors or home delivery options, but was aimed at the full-blown ‘taco wagons’.

Zillah’s decision in unfortunate, given the way many larger cities have worked to incorporate food trucks into their operations. In today’s economy food trucks are a low entry-cost solution for entrepreneurs who are unable to open restaurants and are able to provide jobs and affordable food to the public. Food truck models have been implemented in most major cities, as Long Angeles has addressed health concerns by applying the same grading system restaurants have to mobile vendors as well. For those concerned about food trucks evading taxes, the City Council could try to enact a permitting or parking system more in line with what the city expects. Simply shutting down the food truck industry in the whole town may seem like an easy solution, but city officials are shutting down a major industry based upon what seems like personal prejudice and an unwillingness to enact compromise.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here:


Soccer Star to Open Food Truck in Portland

Midfielder Sal Zizzo from the MLS’s Portland Timbers has recently announced plans to develop a food truck with friends, based upon his own Italian heritage. Zizzo’s family owns restaurants in San Diego’s Little Italy district, so Zizzo and a friend purchased a truck and have spent time learning about food preparation and developing a menu and logo for the new enterprise. Zizzo will still remain on the Portland Timbers, which is wrapping up it’s season, but will make appearances on the truck, stating that he would be around there sometimes working the stove.

Since mentioning the truck on Twitter, the truck has been developing significant buzz, and Zizzo plans to launch the truck in a week or two. The truck will be opening at a popular downtown food truck location, and Zizzo plans to bring the flavors from San Diego’s Little Italy to this new area.

Though his friend will be primarily operating the truck, Zizzo will play a significant role in its operations during the Timbers’ off-season. The Timbers’ coach John Spencer eagerly anticipates the opening of this truck, hoping to negotiate himself free lunch.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: