Monday, August 24, 2009

Save the Miracle Mile Food Trucks

Having now worked in the Miracle Mile for a decade -- and on Wilshire for a total of more than 13 years -- I've been stuck with a vast wasteland of lunch choices for as long as I can remember.

When a rare new spot does open up, it's usually quick to disappoint -- such as the recent addition of Asian-themed Toshi's, a truly awful, awful place. Other joints in the 'hood have long since lost their appeal: Koo Koo Roo, Johnie's, Baja Fresh. Exciting choices -- for 1997. Not so much now.

That's why the recent explosion in "designer food trucks" -- the Green Truck, Bool BBQ, Coolhaus, and of course, Kogi BBQ, among others -- has been so welcomed among the starving Miracle Mile masses.

It now looks like we may once again be stuck with just those limited, brick-and-mortar choices. As LAist recently noted, the established Miracle Mile eateries are now looking to fight back:
Jose Ceja, the manager over at Johnnie's New York Pizzeria, says all the restaurant managers in the area, including Koo Koo Roo, Baja Fresh and Organic to Go, have been meeting over the issue. "We're all trying to work together getting rid of these things," explained Ceja. "I've cut employees left and right because we don't have enough income to keep everyone here. The economy has been bad and I had to cut, and then these trucks show up and had to cut more. We all average $15,000 to $18,000 in rent, have to pay employee taxes and alcohol licenses."

No one's claiming credit, but these concerns are believed to have played a role in last week's food truck crackdown. The L.A. Times writes:
Last week, the lines disappeared after police officers swooped in and forced Green Truck and several other mobile food vendors parked in the mid-Wilshire area to move on.

Some drivers said they were cited for minimal violations such as parking too close to the curb, or parking too far away. Others said they were ordered to pack up and leave.

Police officials said the crackdown Wednesday was part of a one-day operation to clear the area of illegal vendors.

"They don't have city and health department permits," said Lt. Dan Hudson, watch commander at the Los Angeles Police Department Wilshire Division. "Restaurants complain because the lunch trucks are taking their business, and they don't have [proper] permits."

Perhaps it's time to start brownbagging it.

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