Eighteen months ago, the City of Buffalo's Common Council held an open forum on the future of food trucks -- mobile restaurants run by a handful of young local entrepreneurs, following a business model that has proved successful in major cities all across the United States. In addition to considerable attendance at the forum, thousands of local residents signed a petition backing the food trucks, requesting that the Council support their growth. The Council agreed, approving regulations that gave truck operators legal certainty in operating their businesses, and the trucks dutifully followed the regulations, growing in popularity while serving our community.
Last month, in revisiting the original regulation, the Common Council praised the excitement and energy the trucks have brought to this area, and noted that they "have policed themselves" -- Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. noted that there have been few if any complaints about the trucks since the regulation was passed. Lobbied this time by a single local restaurant owner demanding more onerous restrictions on the trucks, the Council rejected those proposals, instead improving the prior regulation by lowering license renewal fees. In fact, Council Member Golombek plans to lower the fees soon, to encourage new trucks to begin operating in Buffalo.
Although public support for the trucks remains high, they are now being threatened in Amherst by a small number of traditional restaurants who fear their competition. The Common Council wisely declined to enact the anti-competitive regulations several Buffalo restaurants requested, so now similarly offensive regulations are being proposed to the Amherst Town Board. Some of these proposals include:
1. Creating a 60-minute time limit for service and restricting operating hours from 9am to 8pm, limitations not faced by any local restaurant.
2. Precluding trucks from operating less than 60 feet from an intersection or 100 feet from an open restaurant, designed to stifle competition and waste police resources.
3. Imposing an additional $500 per truck permit fee, a large hit for a single town, and damaging when added to the existing permit fees already paid by trucks to the City of Buffalo.
We, the undersigned, request that you support the food trucks and reject these proposals. Western New York's food trucks represent some of the most vital new businesses in our region, and have brought new food choices and quality to Amherst. In Buffalo, the trucks have delivered new lunch, dinner, and snack options to underserved areas, and some of their chefs have amazed crowds by winning local cooking competitions over established competitors. Moreover, they have accomplished all of these feats while following local laws and being good citizens.
Very few local businesses have opposed Western New York's food trucks. Many businesses, notably including some local restaurants, have welcomed the trucks and even partnered with them to successfully generate more interest and economic activity. By contrast, the trucks' few opponents have had financial and/or family involvement with traditional restaurants. Rather than competing with the trucks by improving their food quality or diversity, they are attempting to exploit our local governments -- including the Amherst Town Board -- to limit potential competition.
Follow the lead of Buffalo's Common Council and make it easier, not more difficult, for our food trucks to operate. As we said to the Common Council, "Existing businesses cannot and should not be able to stop new, law-abiding competitors from offering higher-quality products at different or even nearby locations. Let the market decide the victors and reward them for their quality and innovation." Please consider the unspoken needs of the many rather than the loudest shouts of the few business owners who are afraid of competing with these trucks.
Jeremy Horwitz, Nick Guy, and The Western New York Food Truck Association:
Lloyd Taco Truck & Catering (Pete Cimino & Chris Dorsaneo)
The Black Market Food Truck (Mike Dimmer & Christian Willmott)
Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs (Frank & Paul Tripi)
Amy's Truck (Amanda Amico)
R&R BBQ (Renee Allen)
House of Munch (Mike Albarella)
Rolling Joe Cafe (Rich Spears)
Roaming Buffalo (Chris & Valerie Taylor)
The Cheesy Chick (Alexis Andrzejak)
The Place To Go (Kenny Moriarty)