EXCLUSIVE: Rosslyn Mulls Ways to Control Food Trucks

by ARLnow.com May 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm 6,725 130 Comments

It’s a debate that’s happening in the District and across the country — how can free-wheeling food trucks peacefully co-exist with brick-and-mortar restaurants? That debate is now coming to Arlington.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) is in the process of forming a set of recommendations for the Arlington County Board regarding the regulation of food trucks, according to an internal document obtained by ARLnow.com. The BID, which is funded by the property owners who rent space to the neighborhood’s 59 restaurants, delis and cafes, says in the document that “the number, location and type of operation” of food trucks and carts is “inadequately regulated by Arlington County.”

Even during the “off season” winter months, between 3 and 9 food trucks flock to N. Lynn Street alone to serve hungry Rosslyn lunch-goers, according to the BID. But while residents and workers may appreciate the variety and convenience of food trucks, the restaurants that pay rent in Rosslyn have been complaining.

“Food truck operators… park at the busiest and best locations for retail business without paying rent, investing in the community, or ‘playing by the rules,'” the document suggests. “Existing ‘bricks and mortar retail tenants, who have made large investments, are feeling significant impacts [from food trucks]… Revenue is siphoned from retailers.”

“Business owners who have made investments in Arlington County need to be protected,” the document concludes. “The County needs to create a level playing field for both street level retailers and food carts-food trucks.”

To help do so — and to help cure other ills allegedly brought on by food trucks and carts — the Rosslyn BID has formed a number of preliminary recommendations. Some of the recommendations are new, while some are based on existing regulations. Though the document is described as a “work in progress,” the recommendations so far include:

  • “Develop a mechanism to address the number and schedule of food trucks during lunch hours. This would provide a consistent approach for both food truck operators and bricks and mortar retailers.”
  • “Dedicate a location for food trucks that is not along the main retail areas.”
  • “Limit the number of food trucks-food carts per block to no more than two (2) and ensure adequate sidewalk clearance for safe passage of pedestrians.”
  • “Restrict the proximity of food trucks to not less than 65 feet away from the front of restaurants.”
  • “Require that food truck/food cart employees must have restroom access within 200 feet of the food truck-food cart.”
  • “Enhance inspections and impose serious fines for health/safety violations.”
  • “Require food trucks/food carts to provide their own trash cans or take away the garbage that they generate.”
  • “Ensure County business registration and tax laws continue to be enforced.”

Rosslyn BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy says that while food trucks can “enhance the streetscape,” the well-being of retailers must be considered.

“We feel that the food carts and food trucks need to be actively managed by the county,” Cassidy said. “We want to have varied offerings, but also allow the established restaurant owners to thrive.”

“We’re working with a variety of other partners in Arlington,” Cassidy added — suggesting that Rosslyn isn’t alone in its consideration of food truck issues. She declined to identify the other groups the BID has been collaborating with.

Jill Griffin, commercial development specialist for Arlington Economic Development, says that the county will be having “conversations” with food truck operators and business groups this summer, in an effort to update Arlington’s vending ordinance.

“We’re getting to a point now that having a more holistic look at how food trucks and food carts relate to the general retail of an area is important,” Griffin said. “We see food trucks and food carts… as providing energy and vibrancy on our streets. And we see them as part of our overall street retail. But we recognize also that there’s a tension between property owners [and food trucks]. And we recognize we need to work toward win-win solutions.”

Food trucks and carts can be an “incubator for some of our small businesses,” Griffin added, citing the cart-to-restaurant success of Pupatella and District Taco. BizLaunch, an initiative of Arlington Economic Development, actually holds seminars for would-be food truck operators.

Griffin said a letter was recently sent from the county’s public health division to the owners of the 97 food trucks and carts currently licensed to operate in Arlington. The letter reminded food truck operators to pick up trash and make sure lines don’t interfere with pedestrian traffic. It also reminded operators that they’re not allowed to park for more than 60 minutes in one spot — a county regulation that Griffin acknowledged is hard to enforce.

“We have heard that enforcement has been challenging,” she said.

After talking with stakeholders this summer, Griffin and AED hope to have recommendations for the County Board by early fall.

In Rosslyn, meanwhile, more restaurant options are likely on the way. There’s currently some 60,000 square feet of retail space for lease in Rosslyn, according to the BID, and another 44,500 square feet that will be available once the Central Place and 1812 N. Moore Street office towers are completed.

“We’re in the middle of a construction push here,” Cassidy said. “We hope in the next 2 to 3 years that we will have a much hardier restaurant community.”

  • Don

    What babies. Yeah, food trucks don’t pay fixed rent the way you do. And they don’t have seating or enclosures or any number of other things that a fixed-base restaurant does. They also can’t service the number of customers you can and have notably more restricted cooking facilities.

    If you can’t leverage that into something that gives you a leg up on them then maybe your problem isn’t competition, it’s you.

    • Nope

      Exactly. Free market. As long as they’re licensed and maintaining health standards, then let them compete.

      Brick ‘n mortar shops are obviously just trying to maintain barriers to entry and limit competition.

      • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

        Agreed. People wouldn’t go to food trucks if brick and mortar places offered the creativity, variety and quality that they often do. These days the restaurant industry in Arlington is about as bland, boring, and repetitive as you can get. Maybe if the restaurateurs stepped up their game and really tried to make for a quality experience… even a lunch time experience, then they’d have nothing to complain about.

      • A Beberman

        Brick ‘n mortar is protecting their biz from a competitor who has an unfair advantage.

    • A Beberman

      Yeah! They don’t have to pay rent, don’t have to come when there is bad weather, don’t have to pay the same taxes, don’t have to come when there is no business.

      • Ben

        And when you describe all of those things they also don’t make money and thus risk going out of business. Every day they are not out is a loss for them so bad weather is a big risk.

        Remember they still pay payroll taxes, employee salaries, have to pay for the truck (which is a huge risk given how small the operation is), most pay for a space to prep the food before going out for the day, etc etc.

        It’s not as easy as you think it is.

        • A Beberman

          My point is they don’t loose as much during bad weather since they don’t have to operate.

          I never said it was easy and know it is difficult to run a small biz.

          Competition is good and location has everything to do with business. B/Ms are going to do everything in their power to protect their investment.

          I am not against the trucks but don’t think it is fair to roll up on an establish B/M, take their customers at the height of business, and roll off once it is slow.

          Now for them to operate where there are not established B/Ms is absolutely acceptable.

          This is why there needs to be some form of regulation to decide on this issue and make it fair for both.

      • John Fontain

        “Yeah! They don’t have to pay rent”

        No food truck operators rent their trucks?

        “don’t have to come when there is bad weather”

        If anything, brick and mortar restaurants have the advantage during bad weather. No one wants to stand in the rain or snow, or in 100 degree weather to wait for food. They go inside a restaurant during these times.

        “don’t have to come when there is no business.”

        Is there a law requiring brick and mortar restaurants to be open at times when there aren’t any customers?

        • A Beberman

          Their rent is not nearly as much as the B/Ms.

          B/Ms are much slower during inclement weather than fair weather.

          There is no law requiring B/Ms to be open. But B/Ms do provide consistency for an area when open during the slower periods of the day and not just the lunch rush

      • FedUp

        They do pay business, restaurant and sales tax.

        • A Beberman

          Do they pay the same rates as the B/Ms?

  • rossl

    disappointing. everyone loves the food trucks.

  • novasteve

    Have no fear, the automobile hating liberals on the board will tax the hell out of mobile eating establishments unless they are solar or bicycle powered.

    • Corey

      No, they won’t.

    • drax

      Never fear, none of your silly predictions will ever come true.

    • WeiQiang

      Seriously? I have the power to tax someone?

      “Siri, note to self …”

    • Liberals love food trucks. What are you talking about?

  • Cletus Van Damme

    It’s just awful. They’re multiplying like cockroaches and there is no way to control this epidemic. What will we do? This issue is definitely up there with problems such as bed bugs, day laborers, and sewage flooded grocery stores.

  • KalashniKEV

    Duh, WINNING!

  • Ben

    Funny – even with food trucks successful lunch spots like Chipotle still have a line out the door. I’m with Don on this one.

    Besides they still pay sales tax, parking rates, and permit fees.

    • Douglas Parker

      Food Trucking is mostly a cash business. There is no way to know if they are reporting their earnings. I suspect that is ample motivation for the County board to put the smack down on ’em.

      • Ben

        Not really anymore. Most now offer Square and every time I’ve stayed in line a majority of people use it.

        Besides if tax avoidance was a issue they should go after Ray’s then. They are cash only and I bet have a revenue volume of all the food trucks combined.

      • John Fontain

        I guess they should shut down McDonalds too then, huh? Since it’s a mostly cash business and we therefore must assume they aren’t paying taxes, right?

      • Justin

        Cash only? I have never paid cash at a food truck. Those trucks pay taxes on credit card transactions.

      • Yojo

        Any food business whether a food truck OR retail location, b/m can be a cash business only if that’s what the owner chooses. I have worked in many restaurants and eaten at many brick mortar establishments where they only take cash. PLUS, most food trucks take cc.

  • Ryan Young

    The food truck regulations that restaurants are proposing would sharply reduce the amount of competition in the food service industry. Of course, that’s probably the point.

    Regulatory capture in action.

  • db

    The permissive attitude towards food trucks is the best thing about Rosslyn. It makes it one of the best and most vibrant places to eat a weekday lunch in the DC area. Killing the food trucks through unnecessary regulations at the behest of the bricks-and-mortar restaurants is a terrible idea. Its bad for consumers and will turn Rosslyn back into a soulless canyon of office towers.

    The first five of those proposed regulations are pure anti-competitive protectionism from restaurant owners who would rather not have to raise their game in response to more choices for consumers. The last 3 recommendations, which pertain to fines for health violations, mandatory provision of garbage, and enforcement of tax and business licensing rules seem very reasonable. Also if increased litter is a problem with food trucks why not impose slightly higher taxes/permit fees on food trucks in the area so that the food trucks pay for the increased costs of clean up?

    • marie antoinette

      Turn Rossyln BACK into a soulless canyon of office towers???

    • Food trucks are the only reason to visit Rosslyn. Such a soulless area lacking any character besides office buildings.

      • jan

        Jinushaun is on to something

    • SteamboatWillie

      I agree with DB.

  • Ashton Heights

    Food Inspections! Just do a couple of unannounced visits. That should thin the herd quite a bit.

  • JimPB

    Don’t fight ’em, imitate ’em. Brick and mortar restaurants might initiate their own food trucks to increase the exposure of the public to a selection of their food and drink offerings, with clear and explicit linkage to their on the other side of the sidewalk operations with A/C or heat (depending on the season), protection from wind, rain and snow, sit down accommodations and a larger menu.

    • Exactly. What’s stopping brick and mortars from opening their own food truck? Look at Jose Andres.

  • Jacob

    This sort of occupational licensing is strangling the city/country and does nothing other than shield incumbent businesses from competition. This type of stuff is the norm in kleptocratic basketcase countries, and should be laughed out of the room in the United States, but I suspect the restaurants will win their protection.

  • R. Griffon

    Some of these make perfect sense, but the majority leave me scratching my head:

    “Develop a mechanism to address the number and schedule of food trucks during lunch hours.
    “Dedicate a location for food trucks that is not along the main retail areas.”
    “Limit the number of food trucks-food carts per block to no more than two (2) and ensure adequate sidewalk clearance for safe passage of pedestrians.”
    “Restrict the proximity of food trucks to not less than 65 feet away from the front of restaurants.”
    “Require that food truck/food cart employees must have restroom access within 200 feet of the food truck-food cart.”

    Maybe the bathroom thing is some sort of health code thing – otherwise it seems excessive. But on the whole these all seem targeted to limit competition and free market without any real benefit to he public.

    My guess is they’re mostly upset that these businesses aren’t paying ARL taxes if they’re based elsewhere.

    • R. Griffon

      But I’m all for increased health inspections, FWIW. That’s good for everyone.

    • drax

      Um, yeah, having a bathroom for employees is a health thing. Seriously, that’s a no brainer.

      Road/pedestrian safety too, and food safety.

      The rest sounds like anti-competitive crap.

      • Captain Truck McTrucko

        I’m thinking that a poop truck/mobile potty could co-locate near the food trucks and satisfy the requirement. Handwashing stations on the side of the truck … ultracool mobile facilities on the inside. Whatever it takes to comply while retaining the competitive market forces on the street.

        *sharts and walks away*

        • nom de guerre


    • SteamboatWillie

      Maybe the restaurants will offer to make their restrooms available to the food truck employees who are parked close by. Ha.

  • soarlslacker

    Can’t they just leave the food trucks alone? As long as the food trucks are legally parked, who cares.
    If your restaurant is great people will go there. Not everyone wants to sit down and be served and spend 1.5 hours on lunch. Many people would rather pick up good food and take it back to the office and eat and work through lunch.

  • Mc

    Rosalyn needs more options to eat, especially interesting ones. The BID needs to promote a food scene in Rosslyn.

  • WantonTaco

    Leave my fokin wanton tacos alone!

    Classic, bully business. Let’s not stop there, let’s hit the craigslisters, the home based web businesses too. They are all evil gamers hurting retail.


  • Glen Carlin NOW

    What’s stopping them from running their own food trucks? Combined with a brick and mortar shop, that would be an awesome combo.

    When businesses ask for new regulations, that means they’d rather not adapt to new competition.

  • charles

    Just clear the sidewalks around the Pentagon City metro. Thanks.

  • rosslynresident

    I just don’t see the case for the level of regulation they’re proposing. At the best, the BID’s case for it is “Food trucks aren’t invested in our community the same way brick-and-mortar joints are.” But really, the vast majority of the case boils down to “Brick-and-mortar restaurants are losing to food trucks, and this is ipso facto bad.” Bad for whom besides the restaurants?

    It’s not like the restaurant market will vanish. There will always be places that can be more easily served by brick-and-mortar restaurants than a food truck, and there will always be people who prefer a sit-down meal, or something more complicated than can be prepared by a food truck.

    All the food truck industry is doing is making it easier for people to try new foods, and easier for people who can’t afford or don’t want to pay (both in terms of time and cash) for a sit-down meal. To single out food trucks for killing the restaurant business is to attack not only the small business proprietors who tend to run food trucks, but also the Arlingtonians – some poor, some middle-class, some rich – who patronize these trucks because they either have no choice, or genuinely prefer food trucks to restaurants.

    • Southeast Jerome

      but does Rosslyn want to be even more of a lifeless place after 5:00pm?

      thats what it will turn into if all of the restaurants shut down and the only food options are the food trucks.

      Arlington is trying to get Rosslyn more mixed-use rather than simply being office-worker populated between 8 and 6. To do that, there needs to be a mix of brick and mortar and perhaps, some more regulations on the trucks.

      Maybe the food truck industry pays for someone to regulate the lunch scene for violations (existing violations that the county cant enforce)…

      • Ben

        Maybe the restauraunts should focus on attracting customers and become a destination rather then rely on the county to assist them run competition out?

        If a place is good people will travel there after the business crowd has left to eat.

        Perhaps competition from food trucks would force them to do that and become the destination you are speaking of. If not someone else should step in and do it. It’s not like once a place has closed no one will step in to fill in the shoes.

        • A Beberman

          If the food trucks are good, people will travel to them, as well. Why does the truck have the right to be in front of a restaurant?

          Why not go down the street where there is no restaurant?

          • Westover


          • A Beberman

            Point is:

            If they have such a superior product, people will come to their location to get it.

          • Josh

            Why can’t the resturant pay the meter and put its own car in the spot. If it doesn’t want a food truck there, it has other options… pay the meter… get its own food truck… become a destination for diners… I see Chopt every day with a food truck in front of it, yet there is still a line out the door.

          • Arlington, Northside

            So the resturant should pay out even more money to protect itself against a competitor that does not have to pay the same sales tax, provide the same facilities, or pay the same fees and rents?

          • drax


            If people are happy buying food from a truck, that’s all that matters.

          • Harry

            That same competitor also has an extremely limited supply, no enclosed seating area with AC (a serious liability in the middle of a DC summer), and no fixed address for people to regularly find them. The playing field isn’t exactly level for the food trucks, either.

          • Sarah

            When sit-down, table service restaurants can get me a tasty, quality, varied lunch in 10 minutes so that I can get back to my desk and get back to work, I’ll pick one of those over a food truck. Brick-and-mortars are never going to go out of business… food trucks are transient and don’t offer the same timeframe of availability. Restaurants are just crabby that they have competition they didn’t use to have. Suck it up and deal… or come up with something original that makes people want to skip the truck and go sit down.

          • John Fontain

            “Why does the truck have the right to be in front of a restaurant?”

            Using that same ‘logic,’ a restaurant could argue that no other restaurants should be allowed to be near theirs. Logic fail.

          • Aaron

            They would kill for that rule!!! And then in all likelihood promptly go out of business since with few exceptions, restaurants that are located in a place with no other restaurants around them tend to be short-lived, since the area lacks a critical mass for people to make the neighborhood a dining destination.

          • John Fontain

            ^^^Someone who understands the restaurant business. Can you go slap some sense into the Rosslyn BID?

          • drax

            Critical mass, plus overflow. When a food truck is busy but your business is slow, you might attract even more hungry customers who can’t wait.

          • A Beberman

            I mistyped.

            I meant “Why does the truck have to be right in front of a restaurant?”

            Meaning why does it feel the need to conduct business directly in front of another business.

          • Ben

            “Why does the truck have the right to be in front of a restaurant?”

            That’s a pretty ridiculous statement. Why do you have a right to be in the street in front of the restaurant? Why does anyone?

          • WeiQiang

            … something in the Constitution about freedom of association.

          • malaka

            yes that’s all about parking

          • A Beberman

            Mistyped. See above

  • T Xoxy

    I used to dread getting stuck in Rosslyn at lunch time. Sometimes I would even walk across Key Bridge to find something better. The food trucks give Rosslyn a vibrancy it never had before. It still needs lots of work. The BID needs to focus on walkability. Sidewalks need to be widened. Streets need safe crossings. Construction debris need to be moved off the sidewalks and streets. The BID has lots of work to do, but that does not include wasting its time attacking food trucks.

  • Aaron

    59 brick and mortar restaurants in Rosslyn?!? Every office building’s sad little anonymous deli that’s only open from 8-2 and only attracts their own building’s drones must be counted in these numbers. The failure of these places to transcend their mediocrity is exactly why the food trucks are thriving in Rosslyn. People deserve better than a badly made cold-cut sandwich for $6.

    • meh..


    • jan


  • If you can’t compete with food trucks, you should get out of the restaurant business. Two barely overlapping demographics.

  • Jeff

    Ahhh excellent. Restaurants provide an inferior product that can’t compete with the trucks for services demanded. Best way to handle it? Get rid of the competition that’s better than you!

  • Walter

    this is ridiculous. Those stipulations eliminate the food trucks ability to survive. There are reasons why people aren’t going to brick and mortar restaurants, some of which include

    1.) long lines
    2.) crappy food/selection
    3.) high prices
    4.) general pain in the butt(maybe the restaurant you prefer is too far to walk)

    food trucks pull up close to your office, offer wide variety, save time and less of a hassle.

    Chipotle still has long lines, because the food is awesome and everybody loves burritos!

    • DeportEmAll

      I hate burritos.

      • your loss *howls*

      • Ben

        They offer tasty tacos as I too am not a burrito fan.

  • Private Citizen, Zero Discipline

    I’m all for HEALTH regulations, but Arl Co makes it way too hard for would-be food truck purveyors to get started. They can’t just buy a used food truck–they have to use a “food truck designer”!! I can’t find this online just now, but I know I saw this on the county website.

  • lindsay

    Too many restaurants in Arlington? This blog is reporting one going out of business about every 2 weeks.

  • craig2

    Look what happened with District Taco. That started from a food truck. They built up a good reputation and a nice following. People loved it, they decided to build a B&M location. Now they are thriving, have 2 B&M locations, AND still pull the food cart out often as well.

    I bet at least 1 other food truck decides to build a B&M location in the next few years in Arlington.

    This stinks!

    • Quoth the Raven

      Pupatella did the same thing, with a similar among of (well-deserved) success.

  • Captain Pupa McPupa

    Why is there a picture of the Pupatella guy? Do they have a PupaMobile or something?

    • Captain Pupa McPupa

      forget it. missed the answer by 2 mins

    • Jacques

      They started out as a truck, before building the restaurant.

      • WeiQiang

        they made DOC pizza napolitano in a truck?? epic, brah

        • nom de guerre

          The truck was produced by Iveco and featured an automated powdered garlic dispenser.

  • WeiQiang

    Get those food trucks off my lawn!

  • nom de guerre

    Food Trucks must be parked within 10 feet of an existing bollard while serving food. This includes DARPA.

    They cannot be parked within 300 feet from Sam’s Corner when it is open for business.

    Food Trucks are prohibited from providing food to Arlington One until further notice.

    That is all.

  • bacon

    Hey B&M restaruants, as long as you stay open late, have garlic, Trevor, and his bras, and make the customer happy like Ballstonsboy told us, you will be fine.

    Ballstonsboy told us;

    “Honestly, that wasn’t even the worst part because the good people at Goodies were chill out you pot head we got another pizza in the oven!

    This made me happy, but I still couldn’t forgive Trevor.”

  • CW

    I can’t really imagine that the trucks are threatening business that much. Am I the only one who thinks they’re overhyped? Stand out in the 100-degree heat in line for half an hour for something that usually isn’t that great, and pay the same prices as at a brick and mortar? Now hot dog carts, that’s a different story, yum.

    • IMO, food truck and restaurant demographics do not overlap. If anything, food trucks compete with Quiznos and McDonalds, not sit down restaurants. People will always want sit down restaurants, but they don’t want to spend 1.5 hrs for lunch unless they hate their jobs.

      People also want variety. When everything in the area seems to serve the same menu, people are going to flock to food trucks to break up the monotony. For example, I’m glad that Zoe’s opened up in Ballston so that I finally have another quick lunch option besides sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches and Chipotle. When all I can get in Clarendon is the same sh-tty Asian food from the same sh-tty restaurants, you bet I’m going to try that new Asian place–be it a new restaurant or food truck.

      • CW

        Frankly I’m not sure what food trucks compete with. They’re slower, more expensive, and less predictable than the aforementioned McDonald’s, Quiznos, etc. They are certainly nice on paper in that they bring variety to an area that doesn’t have it. But a lot of them also just sell plain oddball stuff that I wouldn’t ever want, either. I don’t care if kimchi-stuffed organic cupcakes are the new trend or whatever, just because your selling it out of a truck does not make it instantly cool in my book. I just have not had consistently great quality out of the trucks to justify the wait and hassle, especially once it gets HOT out.

      • QuangTri1967

        Dude, I think you are playing fast and loose with your “demographics” argument. There are plenty of places near my office where I can get a sit down lunch and be back at my desk in 35-45 minutes. What is this hour-and-a-half stuff?

        And what about “variety”? Food trucks tend to specialize, just like restaurants. Are you referring to the number of different options on an individual menu? I would still be a restaurant has a more robust menu than a food truck.

  • South of 50

    What strikes me as odd about this debate is it seems to be focused on Rosslyn and not other parts of Arlington. Of course the reason for that has to do with the food truck business model, which is by nature opportunistic. They should spread out and saturate less.

    Pull up any food truck app and you can see the distribution of trucks at lunch: through the E-W core of DC and a few dispersed locations, and a cluster in Rosslyn. I think most trucks start out getting a DC license, and some expand and get a Virginia license and tend to focus in Rosslyn, because it minimizes their travel time. I understand that makes business sense.

    But other parts of Arlington get virtually no coverage from the majority of trucks. So maybe one solution is to encourage (that’s Arlingspeak for regulations, by the way) Virginia trucks to service areas further away from DC. Create “zones” and have a limited number of licenses available per zone. They could be bid on periodically. But once the Rosslyn spots are taken, trucks need to pick up licenses in zones like Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City, etc.

    Without some structure they are always going to be considered opportunists (with much worse characterizations applied by others I am sure), and the tension will never go away.

    Flame away….

    • Quoth the Raven

      I wish they could authorize food trucks outside the Pentagon. 20K people in there, with nothing but pretty crappy lunch options. A food truck would seriously clean up there.

    • CW

      Plenty of food trucks down on Four Mile!!! The Salvadoran lady and the buff-a-que wings guy have been there for years!!

    • Aaron

      You’re crazy. Arlington has been much more supportive for food truck start-ups than the District, and they’ve penetrated far beyond Rosslyn. On a good day Crystal Drive has as many (though that might be diminishing somewhat with the arrival of CFA and Jimmy John’s and other solid lunch options). I’ve also seen plenty in Courthouse and Ballston, but don’t know how common that is.

      • WeiQiang

        I haven’t eaten from the trucks, but $7 for a crappy turkey sandwich at JJ’s didn’t cut it for me.

    • Harry

      “I think most trucks start out getting a DC license, and some expand and get a Virginia license”

      Actually the opposite usually happens. Food truck regulations are looser in VA than in DC, so most food trucks serve in Ballston, Rosslyn, and Crystal City first while they work on getting a DC license.

  • JamesE

    Restaurants and food trucks seem to coexist just fine in ballston, on the rare occasion I work from home all trucks and restaurants are packed during lunch time.

  • SMDC

    Dear Brick and Mortar restaurants: if your food wasn’t crappy, mass produced, and over-priced, we’d patronize your “rented” establishment more often. In general, we will support the local guy, which is often the food truck around the business districts….


    • WillJohnston

      So it’s war?

  • Bandersnatch

    Kev & NovaSteve must be chortling- nothing brings out the free-market defenders like messing with their lunch. Even in ARL we are liberal only to a point…

    (And I hope that the BID is paying attention to the instant outcry over this)

    • Ten points for Gryffindor for use of the word “chortling”

    • John Fontain

      I am pleasantly surprised to see the overwhelming sentiments in support of free markets in this case.

      • Bandersnatch

        Sorry John, after the fact I meant to include you as well…

        Frankly it’s great to see how folk’s understanding of policy changes with the micro practical implication (this cuts both ways).

  • UYD Fan

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter X, Part II, pg.152

    • Ben

      Well played.

  • Manhattan on the Potomac

    Rosslyn wants to market itself as Manhattan on the Potomac? Kick out the Ruby Tuesday, Baja Fresh, Quiznos, McDonalds, and middling chains and bring in some hipster food trucks.

  • John Fontain

    I’m glad to see everyone sees through this thinly-disguised, anti-competitive (and, therefore, anti-consumer) lobbying effort.

    Rosslyn BID director Cecilia Cassidy and her staff should be embarrassed by the poorly thought-out and constructed proposal. The specific recommendations, such as bathrooms within 200 feet, no food trucks along “main retail areas,” no more than 2 trucks per block to “ensure safe passage,” and no trucks within 65 feet of restaurants are clearly designed for the sole purpose of squashing competition for the entrenched business interests. It’s insulting to Arlington residents and Arlington County staff to think we’re dumb enough to believe these proposals are written to protect the safety and well-being of customers and food truck workers. Seriously, insulting.

    And, as clearly evidenced by the comments here, the Rosslyn BID is extremely short-sighted in failing to understand that the food trucks are bringing much-needed life and ‘vibrancy’ to Rosslyn. Anyone with real knowledge of the business economics of the restaurant industry understands the counter-intuitive notion that more restaurants in close proximity is actual a positive for those restaurants because the area will have a larger mind-share by consumers as a restaurant destination. In sum, the food trucks are a win-win for Rosslyn.

    The document says “business owners who have made investments in Arlington County need to be protected.” Yet, the brick and mortar restaurants’ investments are in privately-owned leasehold improvements. They are not investments in the County. And because they are privately-owned investments, they are no different than the investments made by food truck operators in their privately-owned trucks. So it’s illogical to argue that one group of entities making private investments deserve protection from another.

    If the food trucks really had such an advantage over brick and mortar restaurants, the B&M’s would close their B&M shops and open up food trucks instead. The fact that they don’t belies their argument that food trucks have an unfair advantage. The reality is that both business models have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

    I have a counter proposal: If any of these anti-competitive lobbying proposals manage to get crammed down Arlington County’s throat, meal consumers in Rosslyn should go out of their way to support the food trucks and avoid the anti-consumer, entrenched restaurants. Then we’ll see how much the entrenched business interests like to play the game.

    • WeiQiang

      ahhh, but they do bring more than 50 jobs and/or $5M in capital improvements

    • SteamboatWillie


      Add me to the list of free-market supporting liberals who is very pro-food trucks (which don’t park near my office, unfortunately).

    • Andy

      This. The B&M restaurants could also get into the game and show a little creativity. Look at what Michel Richard Central downtown has done with carryout fried chicken.

    • Foodtruckin’

      This guy wins today.

    • A Beberman

      “this thinly-disguised, anti-competitive (and, therefore, anti-consumer) lobbying effort”

      This looks like an effort to protect business and the area.

      “the food trucks are bringing much-needed life and ‘vibrancy’ to Rosslyn”

      When are they doing this? At lunch, when there is already ‘vibrancy’

      “So it’s illogical to argue that one group of entities making private investments deserve protection from another.”

      It’s safe to say that B/Ms pay more in personal property taxes and real estate taxes to the county

      “The reality is that both business models have distinct advantages and disadvantages.”

      I agree with this.

      “meal consumers in Rosslyn should go out of their way to support the food trucks and avoid the anti-consumer, entrenched restaurants.’

      The “entrenched restaurants” are protecting their interest, investment, and livelihood.

      • John Fontain

        “It’s safe to say that B/Ms pay more in personal property taxes and real estate taxes to the county”

        So whoever pays the most in taxes should get favorable treatment from the county government? Are you seriously suggesting this?

        • A Beberman

          I am not suggesting favorable treatment. I am suggesting fair treatment. Obviously there needs to be some type of regulation. This is why there is zoning.

          You may not agree with certain aspects of the regulations proposed but cleary there are two sides to this issue.

    • James

      Hear, hear! Spot on…

      Innovate or die. If your food and service isn’t up to par you won’t get business. I spent 12 years in the restaurant biz and only see this as a new innovation in culinary evolution. People want quality and if they can get it faster and cheaper on a limited lunch break then so much the better.

      Plenty of food trucks fail for not providing these same basics. People will vote with their stomachs and their feet!

  • Suburban Not Urban

    What poeple should be complaining about is the way the current county govt is driving up the fixed costs for brick and mortor locations that creates such a wide gap between these 2 buisness models that requires manuevers like this.

  • Jessie

    Food trucks are great (especially Seoul Food). If anything, they add to the community.

  • Andy

    The buggy whip manufacturers were all angry with auto manufacturers 100 years ago, too. The fact is food trucks are filling an unmet need. Providing good, interesting food that people can get during a very short lunch window is a wonderful thing. Many people don’t have the time for a full sit-down lunch or are weary of eating tasteless foot-long sandwiches of textured protein and corn syrup. Don’t stifle innovation merely to protect the status quo.

    • Ben

      Street food is nothing new. Go to any good country and you will see a multitude of cheap, tasty street food.

      Finally the US is catching up, all though slowly.

      • SteamboatWillie

        Or go to Portland. Food trucks have been a staple in that city for years. And they serve really good food.

        • drax

          Idea: Food Trolleys!

  • Cyrus

    “But while residents and workers may appreciate the variety and convenience of food trucks, the restaurants that pay rent in Rosslyn have been complaining.”

    Boo hoo, if the restaurants in Rosslyn were any good they wouldn’t have anything to complain about. Hopefully the Arlington food trucks can create a lobby (like they have in DC) to deflect these silly anti-competition rules they’re proposing.

  • Justin Russo

    The Rosslyn BID has been there for 10 years, and what have they got to show for it? And now they want to curtail one of the best things that have happened to Rosslyn lately? (And they had nothing to do with.)

    • wat

      Solar Power Trash Compactors, and Screen on the Green (featuring Presidential movies, for some reason)

    • JMT

      Multi-color plastic chairs.

  • NGDC

    It’s so refreshing to see Rosslyn stands up for their property owners, unlike Clarendon. I should have bought in Rosslyn instead. It’s good to know the BID has your Rosslyn’s resident’s back while Clarendon Board is out to get money and political favors whenever they can. I will sell in Clarendon and more to Rosslyn.


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