Food Truck Owners: The Business Kinda Stinks
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

food truck sweet treats nycIt’s almost summer — a prime season for operating food trucks, right? No, not if you listen to some owners of these mobile culinary carts.

Food truck owners in New York City tell the Times that they are barely breaking even on one truck, let alone a fleet of trucks dispatched throughout city boroughs.

Despite their cute and whimsical appeal, most food truck operations struggle to navigate onerous regulations placed on them by city bureaucrats. Enforcement varies, depending on where the food trucks park, shifting the focus away from making good food and customers happy.

City Councilman Dan Goodnick told the Times, “it’s nearly impossible to (even if you fill out the right paperwork) operate a truck without breaking some law.” How so? Trucks can’t sell food if they are parked in a metered space… if they’re within 200 feet of a school… if they’re within 500 feet of a public market … you get the point here.”

And if their caught breaking any of these rules, the violation tickets can stack up. One married immigrant couple, selling kebabs in Brooklyn, racked up six pink tickets in one afternoon. Total for those violations? $2,850. Fortunately, there are groups, like the Street Vendor Project, advocating on behalf of these food truck owners.

Without easing some of the regulations, owning a food truck isn’t as sexy as TV makes it look.

Aaron Morrison

Aaron Morrison is an award-winning New York area-based multimedia journalist with a B.A. in Journalism from San Francisco State University. Aaron uses video, audio, photography, the web and social networks to tell captivating stories across all media platforms. Over the last year, Aaron has worked as a general assignment reporter for the Daily Record (Gannett) in northern New Jersey. Before that, he spent the spring of 2010 as the temporary legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press' statehouse bureau in Trenton, N.J. In his down time, Aaron enjoys the company of his friends and extended family. He is a fan of culinary arts and dreams of having a home kitchen so tricked out that Julia Child turns over in her grave.