Saturday, June 11th, 2011...12:19 am
Advocacy Made Easy
Food Truck advocacy can be a frustrating endeavor. Old regulations, no regulations or overburdensome regulations create a regulatory patchwork that makes you want to pull you hair out. For example, in Los Angeles County, there are 88 municipalities, all have their own regulations that have to be abided by. Advocacy starts with understanding and education. In order to address regulatory issues you must first understand the regulations in place. However, understanding the regulations does not guarantee that an operator or an association will be able to make positive changes in the industry’s favor. Fortunately, there is one way to make an impact without getting swallowed by the bureaucratic process: Create a bond with the community that you serve…
Mobi Munch, the nation’s first turnkey mobile food service platform provider supporting new and existing food truck entrepreneurs, sent me on a trip to assess the regulatory environment throughout the US. My first stop was Miami. I met with Jack Garabedian, the creator of the Biscayne Triangle Truck Round-up (BTTR) event and the owner of Jefe’s Original Fish Tacos and Burgers. The event originally started on a smaller footprint space and had to be moved to it’s current location on the Johnson and Wales University Campus due to its popularity. There, up to 30 trucks gather every Tuesday to serve the surrounding community. Jack told me that around 4000 people show up every week to eat off their favorite trucks, trailers and bike (yes bike) vendors. I was there on Tuesday, the first day of the NBA finals, featuring the Miami Heat, and it was still packed with students, families, and kids. People were picnicking, kicking soccer balls, and generally having a great time. Jack has taken a full proof strategy when it comes to food truck advocacy, get the people on your side, and the regulators will follow.
I can tell you that organizing food truck events can be like herding cats, but Jack Garabedian has done a terrific job selecting trucks, reaching out to new trucks, and promoting the BTTR event. While I was there, I saw police and code enforcers walking around the event smiling and hanging out with the crowd. The police officers walked up to Jack while we were chatting and had nothing but nice things to say to him. With an event that focuses so heavily on community, any regulator would be crazy to try and get in between the people and their food trucks.
Events like these help connect the traditionally transient food trucks to a community. It’s the first step in creating a bond that will help bring about positive changes to food truck regulations. I’ve seen this first hand with our Tuesday night Food Truck Lot in Santa Monica and now, in Miami with the BTTR event. Hopefully these events will continue to grow and have a positive impact on the industry as a whole.
Next stop New York. I will be on the East Coast for another week. If you would like to talk food truck advocacy, please contact me through the “Ask Matt Geller” portion of Mobile Food News. If need be, I will stop in your city and meet up with you. We are slowly but surely creating a patch work of advocacy organizations nation wide, and I do my best to lend my services to any group that is interested.
SIDE NOTE: Jack Garabedian’s Jefe’s Original Fish Tacos & Burgers, has the best Fish Tacos I’ve had outside of Ensenada…. Thanks for dinner, Jack!
By Matt Geller CEO SoCal Mobile Food Vendors’ Association