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"Make Your Food Better, And People Will Come To You": The Great D.C. Food Truck Debate | Restaurants

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"Make Your Food Better, And People Will Come To You": The Great D.C. Food Truck Debate

It’s unbelievable to think that just a few years ago the D.C. food truck scene consisted of nothing more than those standard hot dog/pretzel vendors that prey on tourists by the National Mall. 

You know the trucks I’m talking about…the ones that are all painted that exact same yellowish color and have that same generic cartoon soft pretzel icon that looks ten times better than the one you end up purchasing.

How times have changed.

The D.C. food truck scene has absolutely exploded in the past year, featuring an emergence of creative, multi-cultural cuisine at affordable prices.  From Asian to Latin American, from Indian to Ethiopian, virtually every type of food is represented and can now be found on the streets of Downtown D.C.  The scary thing for restaurants is that the streetcar fare is actually good now…really good.  So good, in fact, that they might actually be stealing some of the old establishment’s lunch crowd.

The arrival of dozens of new vendors like the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck and Takorean to hit town as recently as the past few months has made it clear that the D.C. food truck is not a passing fad, but instead, a force to be reckoned with.

“I think it adds a lot of flavor to the city of D.C.,”  Farhad Assari, founder of Sauca, one of D.C.’s most prominent food trucks said.  “This is a very sort of conservative, political town, and I think our little, funky trucks are adding a little bit of ambiance and coolness to this city.”

But while Assari and his loyal food following love this new wave of cuisine, certain Downtown restaurants are furious.  Issues such as rent as well as trucks “intruding” into restaurant space has turned the controversy into a serious citywide business issue---with some fearing the entire industry could get shut down.

 “If they shut us down or put limitations on us, they’re going to disappoint a lot of constituents and a lot of people in this city who actually like our food,” Assari said.  “I think people love our food and love what we do, and there will be big disappointments if we get closed down.”

“I hope they don’t get closed down,” said David Moran, the Managing Director of Clyde’s at Gallery Place.  “I think that they actually provide sort of a new part of dining in D.C..  We at Clyde’s haven’t felt an impact (from the trucks) so much.  I know there are other restaurateurs that probably feel a direct impact.  It’s one thing for me to see them down the street (from Clyde’s) around all of the museums.  I wonder if my tone would be a little different if they were parked outside my front door though.”

Check out the attached video above for more reaction regarding the “Great D.C. Food Truck Debate”, including feedback from Peter Korbel of the District famous Fojol Bros. of Merlindia.

How do you feel about this issue?  Do the restaurants have a right to be angry?  And would you be upset if D.C. shut down the food truck industry altogether?

Let us know.  Send us an e-mail at neighborhoodtips@wusa9.com!