The food truck 'pickle' in downtown Minneapolis

9:57 AM, Aug 18, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - All lined up and ready to go, the strip on Marquette Avenue and either side of 8th Street in downtown Minneapolis is first-come, first-park for food trucks.

"By 9 a.m., survival of the fittest," said She Royal's Donta Roby. "Believe me it's maybe eight spots and 12 to 13 food trucks."

The food truck competition starts before the kitchens even open. To accommodate morning rush hour traffic, parking is not allowed on Marquette Avenue until 9 a.m. By 9:01 a.m. every spot is filled.

"Other trucks have tried to go to other locations, but that didn't work out well," said Roby.

Currently there are 40 food trucks in Minneapolis and nearly all of them vie for a spot on Marquette.

For a little more than two hours in the middle of the workday, the area transforms into the land of 'Rusty Taco's' and 'Golden Tummies.'

It's on Marquette where you can get your 'SushiFix' or get a sample from 'Simply Steve's,' but among the beef there's a "beef."

"There's no way to foresee the 40 licensed food trucks on your business," said D. Brian's Deli and Catering's Doug Sams.

D. Brian's is on the skyway level and Sams said the food trucks are in direct competition with skyway businesses.

While Sams mapped out a business plan and invested in an area he thought would be profitable, along came the food trucks. He said while his business is still profitable he has fears and points to the crowds that fill the streets in front of the food trucks.

Some restaurants on the skyway level said they lost as much as 30 percent of their business because of the food trucks.

Other street level restaurants near Marquette have complained about similar losses.

Additionally, some businesses that don't even serve food say they are feeling the pinch because of what is parked outside their entrances.

"It's hard to run a business when you're competing with a carnival, state-fair-like atmosphere," said Wayne Dziubinski, who owns Fast Signs.

Fast Signs is surrounded by food trucks from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every workday, which makes it a challenge for customers to get in or out.

"I think everybody from a non-food truck perspective would be tickled pink if they just spread out a little bit more," said Dziubinski.

He's not alone with the thought of broadening the food truck foot print.

"If they're dispersed so there's two per block that would help those areas right now that are getting hammered so hard," said Sams. He also suggested rotating the trucks through different areas of downtown, which would allow the trucks to get the same shot in areas where business might be better.

For now it's everybody and every truck for themselves.

"At the end of this season, we're going to take all the input people have, and boy do they have a lot of input, on this topic and then learn from it," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "But food trucks are here to stay and that's a good thing. We just want to make sure it's done in a way that's fair to everybody."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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