Massachusetts, and Worcester in particular, is a place known for embracing the American Dream in all its many forms. Now, the Worcester city administrators are looking at changing the rules governing one particular form of the big dream.
Food trucks are a novel interpretation of American entrepreneurship, allowing aspiring chefs to open a small eatery to showcase their skills and tastes, while avoiding many of the sometimes insurmountable obstacles of running a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. The concept has been gaining traction nationwide, and Worcester even held the Fourth Annual Food Truck Festival on June 20, 2015.
City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced that the city will be “crowdsourcing” opinions about welcoming food trucks and other vendors in the city. Current rules prohibit food trucks from operating near store-front restaurants, and near the DCU Center. The regulations also limit the operating hours of food trucks, and, most prohibitive of all, trucks are required to move at least 500 feet every five minutes. These regulations allegedly help prevent food trucks from competing with stationary restaurant businesses.
Food trucks are good for business, because they are business. They are the very embodiment of the American dream—small entrepreneurial business, set in an automobile, serving favorite recipes. Food trucks are more versatile than permanent eateries, with significantly lower barriers to entry.
Emilee Morreale is a caterer in Worcester, and an aspiring food truck owner. “I think its worth focusing on the fact that street food is prominent in most countries all over the world, and in our country—where we have such advanced sanitation—it’s only hurting local economies and cultures to not encourage people to capitalize on their traditional recipes or innovative ideas.” She mentions that so many TV chefs have contributed to the concept’s popularity, and that access to food trucks, “[is] truly what the people want.”
Morreale also mentions that locally-owned business keeps the local economy healthier. Right now in Worcester, “Vacant shop fronts have been available for months and years with no bites…” There is no demand from prospective restaurateurs to lease a brick-and-mortar location. Instead, changing the rules would allow more local chefs to open their own new tax-paying businesses, and share their passions on the streets of Worcester.
Councilor-at-Large Frederick C. Rushton, chairman of the City Council Economic Development Committee, said his committee plans on taking up the city administration’s food truck strategies at its next meeting, July 21.