Are Food Trucks Heading Toward a Food Court Model?

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Aren't these things supposed to be mobile?

Kim Severson pens the latest Times story about food trucks, casting the issue in a national light: Trucks are established and on the rise in many cities, including Atlanta, Portland, Austin, and of course, New York and L.A. She compares the preponderance of mobile dining to the introduction of fast-food drive-throughs in the seventies, a much-debated issue back then, and asserts that, "food trucks are changing the way America eats." Maybe so, but as meals on wheels have multiplied, certain American cities, like New York, are in turn changing the way food trucks operate.

Now that mobile vendors can no longer park in metered spaces in Manhattan, they're being lured into city parks, parking lots (think the Lot on Tap), and even private spaces, like the food-truck court opening later this month in Long Island City. Will crackdowns on trucks roaming freely mean the food truck scene in New York might come to resemble that of Austin and Portland, where many trucks are located in food-court-type setups, and is this a relevant model for our city? One Atlanta diner likes the arrangement because It fosters a sense of community, but in a pedestrian-dominated metropolis, we might not need that. And, most of all, will this mean we have to trek to Long Island City or Staten Island for a food-truck fix?

Funnily enough, in the midst of all this wheeled-food drama, we've just learned of different kind of food truck: a newly launched mobile greenhouse called Compass Green. Housed in the back of a truck and powered by biodiesel (made of leftover vegetable oil from Diner), the vehicle visits schools, camps, and the like to give workshops and farm tours. Just think: Truckbed-to-table cuisine could be the next big dining trend, as long as Compass remembers not to park in any metered spaces.

Should Cities Drive Food Trucks Off the Streets? [NYT]
New Yorks First Private Food Truck Court Comes to Queens [Diner's Journal/NYT]
Compass Green [Official site]
Earlier: As Crackdowns Continue, Food Trucks Try to Cope