Letter to the Editor: Mobile Food Trucks or Mobile Food Labs
Kenwood Street resident and food writer Amy Traverso paints a different picture of the potential future of food trucks in Brookline.
Letter to the Editor:
I’m writing in response to Martin Yaseen’s letters to the editor protesting the food truck pilot program in Brookline. I share some of his concerns about the impact of food trucks on local restaurants, but I also wonder if Mr. Yaseen is operating from outdated assumptions about what food trucks are and the role they play in the current food landscape.
These are not the so-called "roach coaches" that tour construction sites (not that I have any problem with them). They are rolling labs that allow entrepreneurs to test new ideas on consumers, often before committing to establishing bricks-and-mortar outlets themselves. Look at the success of Clover Food Lab, which began with a single food truck and has grown into a business with two standing restaurants and eight food trucks. Then there are trucks like Paris Creperie and Redbones that are attached to fixed (and local tax-paying) restaurants.
These are not a bunch of hoodlums and hooligans invading our neighborhoods They're chefs and entrepreneurs. And they attract savvy and sophisticated diners who follow trends and spend a good deal of their discretionary income on eating out. In other words, they attract the people who keep the Greater Boston food scene alive and vibrant.
I have been a professional food writer for more than ten years and I can say that there has never been a more exciting time to eat in this city. Food trucks have a hand in that. I'm also a relatively new homeowner here, having lived in Cambridge until last summer. As good as Brookline’s existing restaurants are, I look forward to having more inexpensive dining choices outside the thai/sushi/pub/burrito box that is Brookline’s trademark.
I'm not, however, denying that there are challenges. I share Mr. Yaseen's concerns about unfair competition. I hope that the Selectmen approach the program strategically and are willing to identify and try locations that balance the needs of all parties. It sounds like Mr. Yaseen has less faith in them on this front, but I'm hopeful. Other cities are also struggling with these same issues, but none are banning food trucks outright.
Incidentally, I do not share his concerns about noise or litter. For all food trucks I have patronized over the past few years, I have never seen patrons tossing garbage on the ground or hooting about their grilled cheese sandwiches to wake the neighbors.
46 Kenwood Street
For more information on the five food trucks which have been approved to operate in Brookline, see the Brookline Patch Food Truck topic page.