Two recent articles via WCCO and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal highlight the lengths brick and mortar restaurants are willing to go in order to limit the influence the street food movement is having on their business. While some of their complaints may be valid, what this really boils down to is an influx of competition into a marketplace which had been dominated by expensive and low quality food but now is flooded with somewhat less expensive but far better quality foods which are eating into the profits of businesses unwilling to change with the times.
From the WCCO article:
“The trucks park in front of our doors and hijack our customers,” said Doug Sams, founder of D. Brian’s Deli & Catering. Sams says food trucks have hurt his sales by about five percent.
“A five percent drop in sales could be all of your profits, could be fifty percent of your profits, it’s a major impact on the way you’re doing business,” he said.
While D. Brian’s founder maybe be right on when he states that the food trucks have hurt his sales, he is attacking the problem from the wrong angle. D. Brian’s isn’t exactly known for it’s stellar food or service and with a 50% rating (N=14) on Urbanspoon, it would appear that not many people with an interest in food are eating at his establishments mostly because the food trucks offer a far better product for the same, if not a lower, price point.
From the Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal article:
Abdo and other restaurant owners are pressing the city to toughen ruls and fees on food trucks. Abdo said he doesn’t mind the competition and says the food trucks bring vibrancy to the city.
“I just want a level playing field,” he said.
Instead of changing their business to meet the high quality demand created by the “vibrant” streetfood movement, MyBurger is instead trying to attract new business and retain previous customers through a series of advertisements meant to showcase the fact that brick and mortar stores are located in the same spot daily and don’t plan to move around much.
However, what the ads also show are that the traditional restaurants downtown at the skyway level are unwilling to have ever-changing menus which are keeping up with customer tastes like the food trucks are able to do. Instead of restaurants driving demand through location, advertising, and lack of decent competition, a far more knowledgeable customer base looking for food-forward establishments are bypassing the traditional outlets which may be difficult to reach in the maze of the skyway system.
Instead of pushing to punish the food trucks because of their success using superior ingredients, food forward menus, and locations which are more convenient and easily found by downtown diners, brick and mortar shops should be doing what they can to revamp their menus, reset their prices, and draw potential business away from the trucks and into their stores. Unfortunately, they will likely continue to use the city to lobby against the newcomers instead of taking the better option and, depending on the outcome, they may end up closing their doors due to the fact that they simply refuse to do the right thing.
What do you think about the competition the food trucks have brought to downtown brick and mortar restaurants and their response so far? Do you believe that this is simply an issue which needs to be carried out in the political arena or do you think that this is something the brick and mortars should combat with better food? Do you think that MyBurger or D. Brian’s food is any good? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.