Are unnecessary regulations keeping food trucks from reaching their true potential?

With clever dishes, adventurous chefs, and cool vibes, food trucks are a collective vehicle of economic success — a $2B-plus industry spread out in cities across America. But according to a new report produced by the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the decade-long food truck craze is being met with regulatory standards that make it difficult […]


March 23, 2018

With clever dishes, adventurous chefs, and cool vibes, food trucks are a collective vehicle of economic success — a $2B-plus industry spread out in cities across America.

But according to a new report produced by the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the decade-long food truck craze is being met with regulatory standards that make it difficult for some food truck-trepreneurs to shift their dreams into drive..

A day in the life

Part of the allure of owning a food truck over a classic brick-and-mortar is the supposedly low overhead (and, of course, the freedom to gift hungry masses with Asian-infused burritos in a parking lot).

But food trucks are riddled with pricey regulations every step of the way: According to the report, maintaining the average food truck for one year requires an owner to complete 45 separate government-mandated procedures, and pay fees north of $28k on permits and licences.

Take Boston…

In the report’s ranking of the best cities to operate a food truck in (by measure of regulation), Boston ranks dead last, requiring a whopping 32 procedural steps before even being able to open shop.

To start a food truck, Boston charges owners a one-time fee of over $17k. Then hits them with a $37k annual operating fee related to regulations related mostly to zoning laws.

Food trucks: a symbol of regulatory inequality?

Food trucks are a staple at college campuses and corporate holiday parties — but they also have actually shown signs of helping low-income communities stay fed. 

Michael Hendrix, a collaborator on the report, believes there is a “growing gulf” between regulations on ventures most accessible to the educated and wealthy, and ones — like food trucks — that are more easily accessed by the poor.

The rules and regulations on food trucks are accused by the president of the Chamber of Commerce Foundation of being arbitrary, and the variations in each city seem to give her a pretty good argument.

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