How can you tell when an industry has matured? When the businesses involved hire a lobbyist and start disagreeing about how to best represent their interests, that’s usually a sign.
That’s what’s happening in Sacramento’s mobile food scene, where the scrappy, nimble truck operators that have been giving brick-and-mortar restaurants a run for their money are starting to get more organized.
A group of about 20 area food truck owners announced Tuesday that they’re forming the non-profit California Mobile Food Association, a regional group with ambitions to expand statewide.
CalMFA will work with local governments and restaurants to reform regulations governing food trucks, said group organizer and Wicked ‘Wich co-owner Matt Chong. Members will also help promote each other’s events, and share tips like where to get insurance and truck repairs, Chong said.
Website will track trucks
Hungry mobile food aficionados can visit gofoodmob.com for a daily update of which member trucks are selling that day and where they can be found: No more scrolling through Twitter to plan your lunch.
Krush Burger owner Davin Vculek said he’s got all the representation he needs in Sacto MoFo, a marketing company that puts on regular mobile food festivals and has been advocating for looser food truck regulations for a while.
Vculek said some truck owners have griped about paying SactoMoFo to participate in the festivals. But he said the money he makes far outweighs the fee he kicks in to help cover security and supplies for the events.
“If we can pay a few hundred bucks to have a record sales day it makes good business sense,” he said.
Compromising with restaurants
Chong, however, said the two organizations also differ on how to lobby for policy changes at the city level. CalMFA has hired lobbyist Gregory Hines to help truck owners “navigate the government landscape,” he said.
“We needed to have our own voice…to better the relationship between the food truck industry and the local restaurateurs,” he said. “The initial plans that were being pitched on our behalf were a free-for-all sort of idea where trucks weren’t limited to how close they can park to restaurants, there were no limitations on hours.”
“A lot of us either came from brick and mortar restaurants or want to eventually become a brick and mortar restaurant,” he added. “The last thing we want to see is more local businesses closing their doors.”
And The Sacramento Bee reports that Sacramento city leaders are close to working out a deal that would also allow trucks to park for longer but would restrict how close they could be to each other and to stationary restaurants.
Do food trucks need their own industry association? Which other kinds of Davis businesses could use this sort of group? Tell us in the comments.