Oct. 23, 2012 – Members of the Food Truck Association (FTA) tomorrow will mark Food Day by highlighting an important but little-recognized benefit that food trucks provide the community — food trucks are one of the most efficient uses of public space in cities’ downtowns all over the country.
“By bringing food to the densest areas of downtown, food trucks are helping to reduce overall city congestion and maximizing the value of our public space,” said Craig Barsi, FTA organizer and owner of That Cheesecake Truck.
Food Truck Association members will be serving tomorrow at 21st and Virginia St NW, Farragut Square, L’Enfant Plaza and Metro Center.
“In areas where there are no restaurants, such as 21st St. and Virginia Ave. NW and L’Enfant Plaza, food trucks are preparing affordable, fresh-made meals to District workers and reducing their need to get in their cars and drive for lunch,” Barsi said.
“And because food truck may serve more than 100 people from a single parking space at locations such as Farragut Square and Metro Center, a food truck is one of the most efficient uses of a public parking space,” Barsi added.
Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Learn more at www.foodday.org.
Food Trucks to Serve at 14th and D Streets NW for Next Three Weeks
Oct. 22, 2012 – DC’s hottest new lunch is somewhere you might not expect: The John A. Wilson Building.
Starting today and continuing for the next three weeks, a different member of the Food Truck Association will be serving Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during lunchtime at 14th and D Streets NW.
The three-week program was organized in partnership with the DC City Council and the Food Truck Association.
“Serving lunch at the Wilson Building is another example of Food Truck Association members serving freshly made, affordable meals to all areas of the District,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Executive Director of the DC Food Trucks Association. “We’ve organized similar successful food truck programs with the Department of Employment Services and the Department of Housing and Community Development – now it’s the Wilson Building’s turn!”
Chef Alli Sosna on Oct. 21, 2012 discussed food trucks and Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed new regulations with the Food Truck Association on her WLVS Radio Show Cooking with Alli. Listen to excerpts from the show by clicking the links or read the transcript below.
Cooking with Alli
Oct. 21, 2012
Excerpts with the Food Truck Association
Hosted by Chef Alli Sosna
From the Food Truck Association:
Co-Owner of BBQ Bus
Member of the Board of Directors
Owner of TaKorean
Eric N. Schulze, PhD
Co-Founder of Thirst
Director of Fisheries Marketing
Alli: Ok guys, we have an awesome line-up. And the irony of today is it’s our last Cooking with Alli show but we’re not cooking much! So things we’re going to talk about today: We got awesome people, we’re going to let them introduce themselves on their own mics.
Mike: I’m Mike Lenard, board member of the DC Food Truck Association and the owner of the TaKorean food truck.
Eric: You guys rock, by the way.
Mike: Thanks, I appreciate that.
Che: And I’m Che Ruddell-Tabisola, the executive director of the Food Truck Association and co-owner of the BBQ Bus. And thanks for having us …
Che: … To tell you a little about the Food Truck Association – we have 50 members here in the District and in Arlington. Our members together create more than 250 jobs. We support a lot of local businesses.
Alli: Jobs! (Laughter.)
Eric and Steve: Hashtag jobs! (Laughter.)
Alli: Hashtag jobs! Cooking with Alli Jobs! (Laughter.)
Che: We buy our ingredients locally. We’re using local mechanics, local bookkeepers, we’re a good thing for the community. And you know by bringing food to the most dense areas of downtown we also think we’re good for the environment. We’re reducing overall city congestion because you don’t have to jump in your car and drive somewhere to eat. Especially if you look at some of the areas we go to like L’Enfant Plaza and 21st and Virginia NW – large concentrations of workers, but not a lot of brick-and-mortar restaurants. We always like to remind people that we’re not only popular, but we’re good. We’re good for downtown, and we’re good for the community.
Three of our guys this year actually are opening brick-and-mortar restaurants and three of our guys are opening kiosks up in the new Union Market area in Ward 5, which is really exciting. Mike is actually one of those guys. Do you want to talk about that for a second?
Mike: I’d love to talk about different facets of it. Food truck opportunities – you know it’s job growth, economic growth, folks that have a passion for food who understand business operations, know how to execute something but don’t have half a million or a million dollars to open a restaurant, open a fast-casual place in Dupont Circle or whatever else – food trucks are giving them the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and grow a business organically. And that’s a lot like what one of our members, Josh, did with the PORC truck. And it’s a lot like what I’ve done opening the new kiosk at Union Market.
Alli: Congrats on that, by the way. That’s awesome.
Mike: Thanks, I appreciate that. That’s one of the things food trucks can offer the community – not only are the food trucks themselves really good for the city, giving a kind of youthful culture that DC hasn’t really had in the past. The whole food culture in general has added to that as well. But also allowing entrepreneurs that don’t have a lot of disposable income to get into an industry and offer what they know how to offer without having a huge debt.
Alli: I think it’s great. I at one point thought about doing it on my own, a food truck as well, and I think my having worked at restaurants, having worked in catering and seeing there was an in-between space; but at the same time a lot of these folks have to produce the food offsite. Is that true? Legally, do you have to produce the food offsite?
Mike: Legally all food trucks, all vending period, whether it’s a sidewalk cart or whatever else, you’re required to have a licensed commercial kitchen, commissary, or whatever else and that’s where you would receive deliveries or do basic prep work. Most importantly it’s also a place where you have access to everything you need to clean the truck – hoses, trash removal, grease removal, whatever else. What you find is it’s really similar to a restaurant where you might prep cold salads or marinades or sauces or something like that in a kitchen environment but you’re actually doing the cooking of the food on the truck, or the final preparation of the food on the truck. Which is basically exactly the same as a brick-and-mortar.
Alli: Would you say there’s a lot of schlepping involved? (Laughter.)
Eric: So I have a couple questions. One -
Alli: You can’t just override my schlep!
Eric: I’m overriding the schlepping (Laughter.)
Alli: It’s my last show! (Laughter.)
Eric: I did my graduate research in Los Angeles, where they’re big pushers for this new food truck phenomenon -
Alli: It’s a culture!
Eric: – starting with the Kogi truck, which is amazing. I’m sure you guys are familiar with that. If you’re not it’s a Korean BBQ fusion thing. Anyway, one of the things they had to get over in Los Angeles was the idea that it’s different from the roach coach mentality that was prominent. For those of you who don’t know these food trucks were greasy nasty places that weren’t good food. Did you run into that at all in DC? Did you have to convince anyone? Or how did you dispel that myth if it did exist here in DC?
Mike: I think there’s always a stigma of that because of the history of vending. One thing that I’ve always said is that it’s quote, “new vending.” It’s kind of a whole different category. And to me the real difference is branded vending versus nonbranded vending. In the past, and a lot of these folks were actually making great food, some of them might not have been, but before five years ago or so for the most part vending was nonbranded. So no one had a name in the game. It was just I’m going to sell this food and I’m going to do this or that. With the kind of new vending culture coming over in DC in the last three years and over the country over the last five to 10 years people have brands at stake, and I think that’s what the big difference is. You have a name, you have a website, you have a professional looking menu, and then standards come along with that as far as health code and food preparation and everything else. And I think it’s a stigma that’s gone away a lot, but obviously it’s still there for some folks, and the better we do at making consistent, healthy meals hopefully the stigma will go away more.
Che: It’s a little bit of education too. You know, food trucks are inspected at least twice as often as brick-and-mortar restaurants are. Like Mike was saying, we all have brick-and-mortar kitchens where we store our ingredients. Those are also inspected once a year. So it’s a little bit of education for folks.
Alli: But there’s some stuff going down in DC. It says here, “If Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed food truck regulations were adopted they would threaten food trucks throughout downtown.” The Food Truck Association has a stance on that. So what’s the drama going on? What’s going on guys?
Che: The District of Columbia has been trying to update vending regulations for years, long before Mike and I were even on the road. It’s important because, as you were saying Alli, food trucks, the history of street vending in this country, it has always provided a means for social and economic upward mobility for folks like new immigrants, folks who don’t have a lot of resources, and that’s really important. The District has now issued three rounds of proposed regulations for food trucks. This last round that has come out is really troubling. There are a couple things that really threaten us and our ability to do business downtown. Currently food trucks are regulated by a number of agencies – DOH, fire if you have propane and open flames on your truck as well as DCRA, which gives us our license. This new set of regulations gives very dramatic, sweeping powers to the District Department of Transportation for the first time, where DDOT would be in a position to pick and choose where food trucks can vend.
Alli: It’s like profiling! (Laughter)
Che: Well, it’s a little bit scary.
Eric: Is that a Ford? You can’t park there buddy. (Laughter)
Che: And then the other significant piece of these regulations that have just come out is they would severely restrict vending from where there is less than 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk. And if you just think about downtown DC where a lot of the sidewalks are just about 10 feet to begin with, and you think about parking meters, planter boxes, it’s really scary for our industry. We’re looking at each other like, “Wow, are we going to be allowed to vend downtown anymore?”
Alli: And this is a DC regulation?
Che: Right. This is the District. And we think that there’s a better way. I think what the administration would like to do is balance a lot of competing interests and needs for public space. Food trucks, Zipcars, consumers who are looking for parking, I think those are all good things to balance, but we think there’s definitely a better way to do it than to just start restricting where we can and cannot be. And we have some ideas, we’re putting those down on paper. We’ll be submitting those in a couple weeks.
Alli: O.K. Well, Tweet at us. Do you guys have a Twitter handle that people can talk to you?
Che: You can stay up-to-date and informed on what’s going on at www.dcfoodtrucks.org.
Alli: You heard it here first folks.
Eric: Do you guys work with, for example, Maryland and Virginia? I know there are some Maryland food trucks. Do you guys interface with them at all?
Che: Yeah, the association is about 18 months old and last month we actually officially expanded so we can officially represent vendors in Arlington and Maryland. We take it jurisdiction by jurisdiction; every county has its own regs. It’s very exciting. Last week we had our first round of meetings with the Arlington County Supervisors. In Arlington County you can actually only vend for 60 minutes. So we have a lot of challenges there to educate folks about why it’s good for us to be there a little longer than 60 minutes. Something else that’s unique in Arlington is if a vendor gets a ticket for vending past that 60 minutes they actually have to take a day off a work and go to court because it’s a misdemeanor. It’s bad enough to get the ticket but then to lose a whole day of sales. We’ve been working recently with Arlington and are looking forward to working other jurisdictions as well like Montgomery County and Fairfax.
Alli: Awesome. That’s good. Are there any crab trucks?
Steve: There is. Go Fish. They’re up in Montgomery County.
Alli: Awesome, have you guys heard of them?
Mike: Yeah, the Go Fish truck is a Montgomery County truck that I’ve heard of. There’s also Feelin’ Crabby, which is a DC Food Truck Association member.
Alli: I will say that the branding and creativity from the food truck industry is so cool.
Steve: It’s Fantastic.
Alli: They’re so witty and snarky and funny and a lot more creative than some of the restaurants names we have around here …
Alli: … Well that was quick. We’re almost of out time guys, but I want to thank everyone for coming on, for talking about the Food Truck Association and talking about where you guys are at.
Che: Thanks for having us.
Sept. 26, 2012
The members of the Food Truck Association pride ourselves on providing affordable, freshly prepared meals to District of Columbia residents and workers.
However, there is a change coming that will result in you seeing higher prices at your favorite DC food trucks.
On Oct. 1 food trucks will begin collecting and submitting 10% sales tax on behalf of the District of Columbia. This change is the result of passage earlier this year of the Vendor Sales Tax and Collection and Remittance Act of 2012. Up until now, food trucks, like all street vendors, paid a flat fee to the District in lieu of charging customers sales tax.
It is a good thing for food trucks to be able to serve as a means to provide additional revenue to the District and another way in which food trucks are contributing to our local economy and community. Food trucks already are helping to reduce overall city congestion by bringing food to the densest areas of downtown and helping to reduce the need to travel for lunch. And because an average food truck may serve more 100 people from a single parking space, a food truck is one of the most efficient uses of public space.
We appreciate your business and will continue to work hard to earn it. Thank you for being part of our Food Truck Community.
Executive Director, DC Food Trucks Association
Co-Owner, BBQ Bus
Sept. 25, 2012 - Councilmember Marion Barry today announced the launch of “Food Truck Tuesdays” outside the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
Starting today and for the next six Tuesdays, and different food truck will be serving during lunchtime outside DHCD near the intersection Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and Good Hope Road SE.
“The Ward 8 community is delighted to work with the D.C. Food Truck Association,” said Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. “This is just another example of why Ward 8 is a great place to live, work and create opportunities. I’ve always encouraged small business growth in the Ward, and bringing a vast array of healthy food options is a win-win for everyone in the community.”
The six-week program was organized in partnership with Councilman Barry, DHCD and the DC Food Trucks Association (DCFTA).
“The Department of Housing and Community Development looks forward to working with the DC Food Truck Association and bringing additional food options during lunch hours along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue,” said DHCD Director Michael P. Kelly. “This is a great opportunity to showcase how the community is eager to support small businesses and for business owners to learn about the economic opportunities in Historic Anacostia.”
“We’re proud to offer fresh-made, affordable meals to District residents and workers,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Executive Director of the DC Food Trucks Association. “And by demonstrating restaurant and retail viability in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road SE, we’re helping to spur continuing economic development in Ward 8.”
Sep. 10, 2012 – DC Food Trucks will be joining the Serve DC – The Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and HandsOnGreater DC Cares to commemorate the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance and National Preparedness Month at Freedom Plaza.
The event takes place from 11:30 am to 2 pm at Freedom Plaza, located at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
“I am delighted that DC Food Trucks is supporting our event,” said Patricia Evans, Executive Director of Serve DC. “Collaboration from all sectors is what continues to make our communities and our country great.”
The event is an afternoon dedicated to recreating the spirit of unity and patriotism Americans showed directly following the tragic September 11 attacks, by promoting and celebrating service and reflecting on the importance of volunteerism throughout the Capital Region. The afternoon will pay tribute to veterans and first responders and features hands-on service projects, emergency preparedness demonstrations and trainings and a volunteer recruitment fair. Visitors will also be able to dine from some of DC’s favorite food trucks.
“We’re grateful that the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism asked us to join the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance activities at Freedom Plaza,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Executive Director of the DC Food Trucks Association. “The event is a moment to honor victims, survivors and those who rose to service in the aftermath of the attacks.”
AUG. 3, 2012 – Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. starting Aug. 8 for a limited time, food trucks will be parked outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street NW, as part of the Books & Bites @ the Library initiative. People can grab lunch at the food trucks, relax at special seating just outside of the library and enjoy the library’s free WiFi and other services. Each week will feature different D.C. Food Truck Association food trucks.
“During the lunchtime, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library bustles with people who stop by to pick up books before rushing to get lunch,” said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the DC Public Library. “Books and Bites makes the library a place where people can pick up a good book and good food.”
“D.C. food trucks are mobile attractions that help attract crowds,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the DCFTA. “Books & Bites at the Library will help draw new people to the library – some of whom may have not visited the beautiful building before – and make the area more active and vibrant.”
The trucks that will be parked at the library will be announced on Wednesday mornings using social media. In addition, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District’s (BID) Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees (SAMs) will tell passers by about the food truck location.
JULY 23, 2012 – Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander today announced the launch of “Food Truck Wednesdays” at the Department of Employment Services (DOES).
From July 25 to Sept. 26, a different DCFTA food truck will be serving during lunchtime outside the Department of Employment Services at 4058 Minnesota Avenue NE (at Benning Road outside the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station).
“This is a great opportunity for those that work, shop and commute in the Downtown Ward 7 area to enjoy the convenience of food trucks that others enjoy throughout the city,” said Councilmember Alexander. “It’s a good balance to the limited access to sit-down restaurants that we currently have.”
The 10-week program was organized in partnership with DOES and the DC Food Trucks Association (DCFTA).
“We welcome Food Truck Wednesdays to DOES. Our staff is delighted to know that a variety of appetizing cuisine will be just a doorstep away,” said DOES Director Lisa María Mallory. “We now have over 500 people on any given day here at DOES, so we’re excited for these new offerings for employees and visitors.”
Food Truck Wednesdays kicks off with the Red Hook Lobster Pound-DC and Sweetbites food trucks. Other DCFTA members serving DOES include longtime District favorites as well as some of the newest food trucks to hit the streets.
“Lunchtime for residents and workers in Ward 7 just got tastier,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Executive Director of the DCFTA. “And other businesses should take note: There are wonderful communities and great business opportunities in Ward 7.”