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« Voting with their teeth | Main | Moneyed interests »

Aug 15, 2012

Comments

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Brian

I've eaten a Stumbles for lunch a few times - food was decent, prices reasonable and service as expected, but in my mind it already competes for my money with Fincastles, Greys, and M'Coul's. My wife works for a large employer downtown whose employees frequently leave downtown to head to Cookout, Bojangles, Chipotle, Jacks, Whole Foods and other places to get reasonable food not requiring sit down service. These people typically eat out every day and they aren't going to nor can they afford to eat at Stumbles every day. It is about variety and food trucks will not kill the sit-down restaurants. Food trucks will get more people walking around and not getting in their cars at lunch which is goood for many reasons.

Downtown does need more residents and with the Greenway at Fisher Park and the Cityview expansion - help is on the way. And maybe someday the Southeastern building will be converted to apartments as has been talked about as well as the Miller building. I'm on board with Chris in advocating for that.

Ed Cone

I worry more about the pizza joints and take-out spots (Hibachi Cafe online delivery orders, yo) than I do sit-down restaurants.

Peggy Hickle

I agree, Brian -- restaurants and food trucks are two different animals meeting different needs. I don't usually have the time for a sit-down restaurant lunch. As I was walking back down Elm yesterday from the Park to my office, I was desperately wishing for a quick food option besides Subway or Jimmy Johns. I love that LOAF is trying to fill that niche as well, but I definitely would like to see more options. I think the food trucks would bring that variety. That doesn't mean I won't frequent my favorite downtown restaurants at dinner or lunch when I can. There should be enough food love to go around.

Brian

Peggy - Is LOAF doing sandwiches or something? I didn't know.
Ed - I'm not sure Slice or L'Italiano should worry too much. I think location and convenience will play into it as well. I think the N&R editorial strikes the right tone that complete protectionism is not the answer, but reasonable rules are worthwhile.

Andrew Brod

I found Flathers' most-important-to-me-are-the-members-of-my-staff argument to be unpersuasive. Food trucks aren't going to push restaurant wages down all by themselves. It's true that food trucks don't generally provide table service, which requires more staff, but the threat to Stumble Stilskins' wait staff would be no different if there were an increase in counter-oriented food joints downtown.

This is about the business owners, not their workers.

Ed Cone

I read that as concern for their jobs, not just their wages.

But as you point out, if we limit one kind of service, why not limit other competitors?

Andrew Brod

I meant the comment to be about both jobs and wages.

Liv

Diversity, is always a good thing in my mind.

Chris Flathers

im NOT saying food trucks dont have a role or they are not a positive thing... at this point in time this downtown is going backwards... food trucks dont add diversity... its the same food that is offered... I understand lunch is a very fast paced frame of time that requires efficiency. I just feel we ( downtown ) have a few steps to take before food trucks become a priority .. have you guys ever been downtown from 5pm-9pm?? its a ghost town.. the very little retail we have shuts down before sundown.. so yes..that is absolute proof that there is very little tourism/visitation and residency in this downtown... this will work in Charlotte... that city has more employees in the Bank of America tower than Greensboro has in its whole downtown... Charlotte has multiple convention centers, large music and theatre venues, several large hotels that are always full... The south eastern building has remained an empty eyesore and joke for more than a decade. restaurants pay rent and have lead the way in "revitalizing" this downtown, so its fair to let vendors that dont have a stake come in and set up for $100 a year?? no offense.. Id rather pay $100/annually than $5000/monthly... and how is city council protecting us? have any of you even followed issues the past five years... bars/ restaurants and clubs have been targeted more than any other business downtown.. and yes its city council's job recognize ZONING issues

Andrew Brod

If food trucks don't add diversity, then it's hard to argue that bars and restaurants do. Is that really the tack you want to take?

"Stumble Stilskins: Just like the other joints downtown."

Brian

Kudos to Chris for chiming in...not for the faint of heart. Look, no one is going to bring a food truck downtown on a regular basis if it isn't going to work for them, but by saying we shouldn't try this out, then, yes, the City is trying to protect the downtown restaurant owners. Doing so is not a commentary on the positive role that the restaurants and bars have played in downtown's revitalization. It's a good bet that food trucks might also help play a role. We can't say it won't work, if we don't ever try. That is all this is about. The City Council can giveth the opportunity for mobile food trucks and it can take it away, but there is no compelling reason to not give it a try. Customers want choices. More choices will lead to more vitality and people coming downtown. Getting better retail choices downtown should also be a goal, but that is a different animal.

Ed Cone

Chris, thanks for reading and commenting here.

My guess is that the prime time for food trucks would be at lunch and maybe weekend nights.

In terms of diversity, my end of Elm could use some. My quick lunch options now are pretty much limited to takeout from Mellow Mushroom and Hibachi Cafe. I recommend both of them, but the Azteca truck would be a welcome addition if it parked nearby.

Maybe I'm wrong, but parking the Ice Queen truck in the Sweet Shop parking lot would probably increase sales inside.

The fact that trucks can't sell alcohol seems like a guarantee off some high-margin business for bricks-and-mortar establishments.

Peggy Hickle

Yes, Brian -- LOAF is starting to do sandwiches, salads, quiches, etc. -- light faire. The Green Bean has talked about doing paninis for over a year now -- maybe they'll join the fray, too.

I'm with you, Ed -- our end of Elm could use a food truck or two at lunch.

Shirlee Murphy

Agreeing with Ed, Brian and Peggy. It is about choices, clientele, location, time--and, of course, regulation. We have some excellent sit-down restaurants when time, money and appetite are not short. Sometimes they are just not a fit. Food trucks would fill that niche--especially during the day.

If we can get food trucks maybe we can loosen up and let some street musicians in on the scene and watch downtown liven up. In addition to downtown residents we benefit from having thousands of college/university students near by. Come in and hang around Mary's Jewelry Box on the street level of the Lofts at 321 S. Elm and watch students and parents w. children shopping for something unique. Are there any numbers for total of downtown--Lee Street to Fisher Park-- residents and employees?

Chip Berry

A good starting point for any serious conversation on food trucks is Roddy Doyle's The Van. Our family loves the movie too.

David

It would be nice if the City would consider the citizens in some of these decisions. Is it the City's job to protect us from popular trends?

From AdWeek:
"Some wonder whether food trucks aren’t on a similar evolutionary course to that of the cellphone. When mobiles first hit the market, consumers viewed them as a supplement to the landline. But over time, the mobile phone, for many, became their only phone."

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/sizzler-has-food-truck-sorry-hipsters-142481?page=3

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