Jencunas: Food Trucks Essential for Providence Success
Sunday, July 19, 2015
This praise might seem like hyperbole, but Principe’s ordinance is more important than it seems. Encouraging food trucks means Providence residents have more options for good, affordable food. More importantly, it sends a message that Providence is a modern city that embraces new trends rather than tries to hold back change. If the city applies this approach to other new technologies and trends, Providence would become a better place to live.
Food trucks are an example of modern urban innovation. Due to low overhead, it’s much easier for entrepreneurial chefs to open a food truck than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The same low overhead helps keep prices low while still serving fresh, tasty food. That popular combination ahs caused food trucks to become wildly popular in recent years.
Unfortunately, laws don’t always keep pace with innovation. In Providence, food trucks couldn’t be in a parking space longer than two hours. Since it takes time to set up the food truck’s kitchen and unpack it once the truck is finished selling, this time limit was a major problem for food truck vendors. It forced them to move too frequently, wasting time packing and unpacking rather than serving customers.
Councilman Principe’s ordinance lets vendors stay in a location for four hours. That’s the smallest amount of time recommended by the National League of Cities in their 2013 report about food trucks, but it’s a huge improvement from the two-hour rule. More locations will be available for food trucks, and this should entice more chefs into entering the food truck market.
Providence should take a similar approach to other urban innovations like Uber, a ride-sharing app that competes with taxis, and Airbnb, a short-term rental service that competes with hotels. So far, the city has resisted attempts to stifle these services with severe regulations, like Bill DeBlasio is doing in New York City with Uber and Santa Monica did with Airbnb. However, as the popularity of these services increase, the threat they pose to entrenched interests will also rise. In tern, this will increase pressure on Providence’s government to hinder these popular innovations.
Taxicab unions and hotel operators are both organized interests groups who can bring pressure on their own. What’s more, their attempts to regulate their innovative competitors are supported by misguided liberals. These liberals, often motivated by the low salaries of Uber drivers, think that erecting barriers to entry and eliminating jobs will raise wages rather than simply increase unemployment.
This is a mistake no different from over-regulating food trucks. Both are biased against innovation, both ignore real consumer demand for new services, and both would stand in the way of helping Providence attract skilled millenials and provide citizens a better quality of life.
Embracing, not fighting, the future is a pathway to success for cities. The city council did a great job of that by reforming food truck regulations. If that spirit continues to guide their approach to regulations, they will be doing their city a valuable service and truly earning their votes.
Related Slideshow: RI’s Food Trucks
Rocket Fine Street Food
Specializing in American comfort food with finesse and high quality, often locally sourced ingredients ingredients, Rocket offers delicious items such as Mom’s Baked Mac ‘n Cheese and the Ron Swanson burger, all made from scratch. Vegan, Vegetarian, or gluten free? Not a problem; Rocket has you covered.
Where to find them: East Side/Thayer Street, Kennedy Plaza, several farmers’ markets (Ship St., Armory, Downtown). Visits Brown University, RISD and Johnson and Wales.
Photo: Carrie Albrecht Vibert, poetinthepantry.com
LA-style Mexican street food without leaving Providence—Mijos has it all. Try their tacos, tostadas, burritos and more, all at great prices on the go.
Where to find them: Brown Medical School, College Hill, Pawtucket Farmers Market, Armory Farmers Market, Kennedy Plaza, and more
Mama Kim’s brings tasty Korean BBQ flavor to College Hill, its usual cooking grounds. The food is cheap, delicious, and locally supplied from fresh ingredients. Get everything you never knew you loved, from wraps, rice sets, sliders, and daily specials. You can even request a dish to the chef.
Where to find them: Llower Thayer Street, near Brown University’s SciLi
Sausages and beer! “French-influenced, New England grown”, Hewtin’s brings gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches to the street. Order your favorite dog and lay on as many delicious toppings as you can fit!
Where to find them:
Tuesday: Downtown at Grant’s Block, 11:30am-2pm
Thursday & Friday: North Main Street, Smith Street, Roger Williams National Memorial Park, 11:30am-2pm
Friday: North Main Street, Smith Street, Roger Williams National Memorial Park, 11:30am-2pm
Saturday: Chez Pascal for Farmers’ Market, Lippitt Park, 10am-1pm
Like No Udder
Are you vegan, or have a vegan friend that’s been craving ice cream? No more missing the delicious, creamy dessert—Like No Udder brings you one-of-a-kind, vegan ice cream right on the streets of Providence. Try a cone of soft-serve vanilla or chocolate with your favourite toppings! Not in the mood for ice cream? Try a vegan slushie, candy bar, or float.
Where to find them : Thayer Street, East Side, Downtown
Fancheezical is B.Y.O.G.C: Build Your Own Grilled Cheese. Choose from any cheese, toppings, and bread your heart desires. There are even gluten-free and vegan options.
Where to find them: Thayer Street, The Avery on the West Side, Kennedy Plaza, Grant’s Block Visit Brown, RISD and JWU, sometimes PC
“Get your BBQ on…like Donkey Kong!”, says Eddie’s BBQ truck. Get good, ole fashioned southern style BBQ dishes, or try something new like BBQ fish, tofu, shrimp, or eggplant.
Where to find them: South Kingstown and Narragansett (does not visit colleges specifically)
Poco Loco Tacos
You can see this bright yellow truck from a mile away. Offers a delicious selection of tacos and burritos, or get creative and build your own.
Where to find
Tuesday: Grant’s Block 11am-2pm
Wednesday: Knight St 8pm-12am
Thursday: Promenade St at the Providence Blood Drive Center 11am-2pm
Friday & Saturday: Scurvy Dog on Westminster 11pm-2am
Plouf Plouf Gastronomie
Providence, Newport, Pawtucket
Don’t sacrifice quality for ease—Plouf Plouf Gastronomie offers organic, homemade French cuisine. Try their fish, steak, or if you’re feeling adventurous...the snails. The ever-changing menu is sure to have something new that fits your craving whenever you see it drive by.
Where to find them: Visits to Providence, Fall River, Newport and Pawtucket
PVD Pudding Pops
Homemade, refreshing pudding pops--what could be better? Choose from chocolate, RI Coffee Milk, Berries ‘N Cream and more. The pops are all homemade using local herbs, fruits, and Rhody Fresh milk and cream.
Promising to “bring the beach to you,” this truck offers Rhode Island fish favorites, including Lobster rolls (served hot or cold), clam cakes, whole belly clams, coconut shrimp, and more. This truck will give you a taste of summer all year long.
Where to find them: Narragansett Beach, Providence
Cupcakes taste better when served out of a 1950s IH Metro Van. Sugarush offers season options like margarita lime, s’mores, egg nog, and lemon with lavender frosting. All cupcakes are vegan, so everyone can enjoy.
Where to find them: Hope St, Lippet Park; Visits RISD and Brown for many events
Championship Melt serves grilled cheeses ranging from classic to crazy, in a hard to miss yellow truck. They offer Vegan, Gluten Free, and Lactose intolerant options. Look out for specials like their Chicken Parm Grilled Cheese.
Where to find them: Thayer Street, Broadway Street, Dexter Field, Harris Ave
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