Enthusiasm in Atlanta for food trucks — but not from restaurant owners

After a flurry of public discussion a few months ago, the issue of food trucks in Savannah seems to have slipped near the back of a long list of pressing concerns.

But I’m sure the issue will continue to be raised. As I’ve said before, I’d love to live in a city dense and vibrant enough for food trucks, but I’m pretty sure Savannah doesn’t qualify. Still, I’d favor some guidelines modeled on what’s working in other cities, such as Charleston.

The AJC has an interesting piece today on Atlanta’s food trucks: Food trucks taking a bite out of restaurants

There’s an upbeat video about the food truck culture, which is right now limited to 35 trucks. I like the emphasis here on the civic engagement that food trucks can produce:

But the accompanying article discusses some of the tensions food trucks are creating:

An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people show up on Thursdays for a gathering of food trucks in Midtown.

But in some cases, the trucks have brought controversy along with gelato, tamales, Venezuelan corn cakes and char-grilled hot dogs. They have lower overhead than restaurants and — some restaurateurs suspect — tenuous allegiances to particular neighborhoods and their existing businesses. In a tough restaurant market, is that an unfair advantage?

“My main issue is, how are they helping the community?” said Coggin, who noted that his restaurant is hit up for charitable donations every week and wonders if food trucks are also asked. “Are they just making a buck and leaving? It’s like poaching.”

The “Art Stroll” in Castleberry Hill became the focus of the food truck debate earlier this year when the trucks got a special exemption from Atlanta to park in a public area. Local restaurateurs complained that the trucks were siphoning off business on the biggest night of the month, without paying their dues in the neighborhood. One restaurant owner made sarcastic T-shirts in which wearers could complain that they went to the Art Stroll and got only a cold taco.

It’s a newsy piece and well worth a read.

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