San Francisco News
Off the Grid wins legal dispute, food trucks return
SAN FRANCISCO -- Food trucks scored a major victory this week in an ongoing turf war with San Francisco restaurants. Diners love the variety these trucks offer, but nearby restaurants say they can't compete with their low overhead.
Julia Yoon is the owner of Seoul On Wheels, one of half a dozen food trucks that feed tourists and bureaucrats alike on Fridays in front of City Hall. But it's inside City Hall that food trucks won a major victory this week.
"Hopefully this will be a first step in breaking down some barriers and legitimizing the food trucks," said Yoon.
After a legal challenge by local restaurants forced a two-month hiatus, San Francisco's Board of Appeals has overwhelmingly voted to let Off the Grid bring its food trucks back to the corner of Front and Vallejo streets, at the edge of the Financial District.
"I think that area is really lacking in food and definitely diverse food," said Yoon. "So to bring food trucks in and serve that community is a wonderful thing."
Though the food truck owners say they're excited to bring some variety back to a neighborhood without too many choices for lunch, the people who own restaurants in that neighborhood are not very excited about having to compete with this.
"I just think it's unfair competition, and unfortunately the city is not looking at it that way," said Fredy Tamraz, owner of Cafe deStijl. He says while he pays thousands a month in rent at Cafe deStijl, the food trucks just show up and pay the parking meter. "On many occasions, I've seen their customers coming and using our bathrooms or sitting outside our restaurant and having their lunch because they don't have seats over there."
Half a block away from where the trucks park, the wait staff at Grumpy's has been getting, well, grumpy.
"It's just slower lunches, less tips for everyone," said Grumpy's waitress Naomi Beck. That, despite a promise that Off the Grid's trucks won't sell hamburgers. "They came and told us before that they weren't going to do any food that competed with us, which I think is very considerate, but it still took away business."
An Off the Grid spokeswoman said the trucks will be back soon and restaurant owners say they're bracing for it.
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