Once upon a time, I worked in a suburban office park surrounded by scores of mid-priced, casual dining options nearby. Before that, I worked in the downtown of a large Midwestern city, and could eat in all sorts of Establishments from 4 star steak houses to casual Italian places or sandwich joints with good food at affordable prices. My first Government contracting job placed me in Crystal City, Virginia, offering a wonderful assortment of lunch and after-work-oriented establishments. I am now stationed in L'Enfant Plaza, where my options for dining are either a cafeteria that offers entrees that could double as a salt lick; a few chain sub shops that offer bland - sometimes moldy - sandwiches; and, a series of weigh-and-pay restaurants that shovel mass-produced crap upon the hungry masses.
Had I known that L'Enfant Plaza was the area where affordable, decent food went to die, I would have asked for hazard duty pay.
My job, mind-numbing at best and downright stressful at worst, has but one real respite - when my Facebook or Twitter feed tells me that Sauca, El Floridian, Curbside Cupcakes or even DCSlices is coming to sell their wares in L'Enfant, or Federal Center SW, or by the Smithsonian. The future of a mind-numbing 2011 is only parsed by hearing that Fry Captain, a Korean taco truck - heck, even a Mac-n-Cheese truck sounds awesome - when compared to a corn-syrup and MSG-laden existence.
I can see why established, brick-and-mortar restaurants would complain about the food trucks - it's competition, and competition can be scary. I will also note that the restaurants of D.C. never minded the regular old run-of-the-mill food carts that sell hot dogs, chips and sodas to the tourists running around the Mall. Now that they have some sort of competition, they are in a panic, and rather than innovating, revamping their menus, or offering higher-quality products, they're whining to their elected officials to put the food trucks in a competitive disadvantage. Notice that it's not the places designed for lobbyists and expense accounts that are complaining - Charlie Palmer Steak, Fogo, Central and Oyamel aren't crying because there's a new type of dining option on the streets. It's the places that serve barely-edible food, thinking that a silly mobile truck is taking their customers away. Make no mistake - people aren't leaving the existing establishments against their collective will - they're going because the trucks offer better, more interesting food options.
Please consider any legislation that attacks the food trucks is a ruling against competition, and against the citizens who live and work in the District.