Mpls. Restaurant Owners Ask for Crackdown on Food Trucks

Updated: 01/23/2013 8:29 PM By: Steve Tellier

You've likely seen it for yourself - food trucks have taken over parts of downtown Minneapolis.

In the past two years, numbers have jumped more than 400 percent.

Some Skyway restaurants owners have taken big bottom line hits since food trucks began proliferating downtown. Now, they're organizing, and asking the city to crack down.

Come springtime and lunchtime on Marquette Avenue, curbside cuisine is king. And customers shell out a lot of cash that isn't going skyward.

"The food trucks are good for the vitality of downtown, but the concentration of food trucks along a two-block stretch of Marquette is a problem," said Doug Sams, the owner of D. Brian's Deli.

Sams said sales at many Skyway restaurants have slumped as food trucks have invaded their territory. He said the problem is most pronounced on Marquette, between 6th and 8th streets -- the epicenter of the food truck trend.

"They're only concentrated on two blocks of Marquette and my store is just upstairs," said Goly Baniani, the owner of Cousins Subs, which sees its sales fall when food trucks are lining the street.

On Wednesday, several restaurant owners sat in on the first meeting of the Downtown Food Committee. Sams started the group, which wants the city to spread the trucks out across downtown to prevent what they call a disproportionate negative impact on their businesses.

But some insist food trucks are nothing but positive.

"We grew up from a company of 25 employees to a company where we have over 50 employees in the past three years," said Sameh Wabi, the chef and owner of World Street Kitchen.

That restaurant is living, cooking proof of the food truck frenzy. Three years after they started up in a truck, they've added a firmer foundation, in the form of a brick and mortar store in Uptown, to their four wheels.

The owner insists food trucks have staked their claim to their share of sales and their parking spots.

"It's not about, 'Let us stay.' It's, 'We're here to stay,'" Wabi said.

The City of Minneapolis said right now, there are no plans to change the ordinance that governs food trucks within the city.