The food truck phenom hit a brick wall on Wednesday when police descended on Mid-Wilshire and ticketed food trucks for the teensiest of offenses, even towing one away. "A task force came to let it be known we'd be harassed for any infraction there for a while to come. Officers were very respectful, but made it clear it wasn't worth coming back to the best spot we all have and share. They gave tickets out within ten seconds of people parking. Some tickets were threatened to be $5,000, which no one got, but why risk it," asks Bobby Allen when we ring him up. Allen is the
owner general manager of veteran Green-Truck-on-the-Go and acted as a front-line reporter to Losanjealous via text message while the raid occurred. "Our Wilshire lunch sales are down 30% now that we've had to move somewhere else."
Area restaurants are now at the center of boycott calls amid rumors they have been dropping dimes on what could be perceived as their competition. Allen replies, "I don't encourage a boycott of the restaurants there at all. It's not like they're oil companies or anything. I respect local restaurants completely and now know what it's like to take a hit to your livelihood."
Allen has the positive outlook typical of a guy running a "green" truck replying, "There's enough for everybody out there and we want to all just work together to make things sustainable. Trucks out here, from the newer ones to traditional taco trucks, can do very well in a day and the more of us there are, the better we all do."
This could be the perfect chance for more truck activism and unity, and Bobby is the first to see the bright side. "I've been talking with Alice from Kogi and the other owners. I think this could be positive as our lines of communication open up."
He also has no problems with the laws a mobile food vendor must adhere to. "It's a very good thing to see police enforcing permits, that's another issue entirely. We are always happy to show officers whatever they need. It tells our customers that we've passed certain health standards and are legitimate as a business they can trust."
With lunch service on the wane on Wilshire, we were recently reminded that The Brig on Abbott-Kinney is one of the few establishments allocating parking space for food vendors. It no doubt enjoys the benefits of having so many thirsty customers nearby. Allen agrees that neighboring businesses shouldn't see them as competition but as partners. "We bring so many people to the street. If they had lower prices and fresh, fun food, I know they would be rolling in customers too. Without us there, there's bound to be a lot less foot traffic."