Proposed regulations already killing food truck businesses in D.C.

Apologies for two Beltway-area stories in a row, but Maryland and Washington, D.C. offer such emblematic examples of onerous regulation and taxation run amok in a one-party system, they have many stories worth telling.

Terrible news for one small business in Washington, D.C. The Pinup Panini food truck used its grills for the last time this week:

D.C.’s proposed regulations for food trucks, which of course protect entrenched interests at the expense of up-and-comers, are poised to cause far too many sad tales like Cori Bryant’s.

Bryant launched Pinup Panini in October, serving up hot, made-to-order meals in competition with a fleet of trucks where success comes from a combination of expedient service and culinary creativity. But D.C.’s food trucks have also found themselves hampered by the city’s proposed regulations over their industry. Mayor Vince Gray first proposed regulations last year; since then, the proposed rules have gone through three extensive makeovers.

The most recent version of proposed regulations, published last month, would establish 23 mobile vending zones around the city. But those zones could only be accessed by vendors who win a lottery for one of the spaces; both the lottery and the spaces come with fees.

Other food trucks may just move to friendlier climes, over the river in Arlington:

But already some the owners of food trucks might be eyeing different territory where they might not have to face such burdensome rules. Arlington officials are also deliberating food truck regulations, and those proposed rules would actually open up the areas and lengths of time food truck could operate.

Fans of Pinup Panini, though, are out of luck. In subsequent tweets, Bryant wrote that she planned out two years to become profitable, but she “just can’t afford the war on trucks.”

Bryant also isn’t the first food truck owner to shut down her business over the threat of difficult regulations. Last month, Brian Farrell, the owner of the Italian food truck Basil Thyme, told Washington City Paper he was quitting, saying the proposed regulations would make the already difficult food truck business too burdensome to be find any success.

The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington is fighting the regs in D.C., and I’ll be pitching in and hoping they can win. Sad to see dreams and livelihoods crushed like this.

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Jazz Shaw 1:01 PM on April 01, 2023