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By Stuart Soffer

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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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Food Trucks at the Menlo Park Train Station

Uploaded: Jan 2, 2014
I understand the incipient squealing from established restaurants that the food trucks poach customers. When the downtown Farmers' Market was first proposed the same refrains were heard (I recall that I was in the chorus at the time) – health, non-regulation, noise – but it was all about competition, or specifically, restricting competition. We now know with the years of experience the practical value of the Sunday market to our community as well as the vendors. I'd surmise that at least Trader Joe's gets bumper sales on Sundays as a by-product of visitors to the market.

For many years, my wife commuted to San Francisco and frequently lamented that there wasn't a cart or other option for picking up a quick dinner on the way home, or on the way onto the train. I always felt that the station area would be an ideal place for such an enterprise.

My experience with the food trucks is as follows. When I work in NYC trucks bring a variety of cuisines. Some have cult followings and you need to track down their locations on a day-to-day basis. I've also tried the trucks that sit in front of the Willows Market on Monday nights. It's somewhat a community event.

Food trucks are not likely to poach customers of the white-table restaurants such as Trellis, Vida, Left Bank and Carpaccio. We are more likely to frequent Santa Cruz Avenue restaurants. Over the years I've spent A LOT with these downtown restaurants, including hosting family and business events. The trucks and the downtown restaurants address different markets, provide different experiences, and different timing. And alcohol. You don't need reservations for the food trucks.

The only restaurant that I can see with a legitimate potential beef with food trucks is Café Borrone. They are about to open a take out pantry next to the café. Borrone is usually closed Sunday and Monday nights. I propose restricting the permitting of the food trucks to those nights. If Santa Cruz Avenue restaurants wanted counter the truck phenomenon I suggest that launch some Very Happy Happy Hours. I'd be pleased to consult on their menus.

Bring 'em on.

Comments

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 1:26 am

Another blogger -- Elena Kadvany, "The Foodist", already wrote about this from her point of view, adn she, too said she liked those food trucks. Here is what I commented to her blog:

I am very opposed to allowing those food trucks to do business anywhere in Menlo Park. Why?

1. Those food trucks will make a lot of pollution, because they have to keep their diesel engines running continuously in order to keep their refrigeration units running, so that perishable foods stay safe to eat (below 40 F). This pollution is bad for everyone's health The CO2 emitted by those diesel engines also contributes to global warming. "Off the Grid" -- and into your lungs!

2. The proposed site at the Caltrain station will use up a lot of precious parking spaces. Where are commuters and other Caltrain users supposed to park on Wednesdays?

3. Will these food trucks be regularly inspected by the county Health Department to ensure that the food they sell is safe to eat? These inspections must be a surprise, so that the operators will not have a change to "clean up their act" just for the inspector --and this is almost impossible to do with food trucks.

4. These food trucks are bad for our local restaurants, as they do not have to pay rent to landlords, as do local restaurants, nor do they have to follow all the rules that restaurants have to follow.

5. I do not trust them to leave the area clean.

6. I do not trust that the music will not be too loud.

7. Will these food trucks have to pay any kind of use fees to the City of Menlo Park for using up all those Caltrain parking spaces, and for disposing of the garbage they will generate? There is no room on those food trucks for the many garbage containers they will need, nor should they be allowed to carry garbage in the same area as food, so someone else will have to haul it away. No trucks = little garbage.

I hope any and all permissions for food trucks to operate here in Menlo Park will be withdrawn immediately. (I am aware of the operation on Middlefield at the Willows Market. I don't approve of it, either.)

Food trucks are a very bad idea.


Posted by Truckee, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Jan 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

As seen elsewhere..

"1. Those food trucks will make a lot of pollution, because they have to keep their diesel engines running continuously in order to keep their refrigeration units running, so that perishable foods stay safe to eat (below 40 F). This pollution is bad for everyone\'s health The CO2 emitted by those diesel engines also contributes to global warming. "Off the Grid" -- and into your lungs!

>>> they use small generators, do not run their engines during service. Regular restaurants consume energy as well - power provided by power plants, which also pollute.

2. The proposed site at the Caltrain station will use up a lot of precious parking spaces. Where are commuters and other Caltrain users supposed to park on Wednesdays?

>>> Wednesday night, not Wednesday morning and all day... And plenty of room at the Caltrain station every day.

3. Will these food trucks be regularly inspected by the county Health Department to ensure that the food they sell is safe to eat? These inspections must be a surprise, so that the operators will not have a change to "clean up their act" just for the inspector --and this is almost impossible to do with food trucks.

>>> Food trucks are inspected by county health just like restaurants.

4. These food trucks are bad for our local restaurants, as they do not have to pay rent to landlords, as do local restaurants, nor do they have to follow all the rules that restaurants have to follow.

>>> they pay for their trucks, pay for their supplies, pay sales tax on every sale (take out), pay rent for the location, pay the organizer for promotion, pay their employees...what rules?

5. I do not trust them to leave the area clean.

>>> it will be the diners who leave the trash, which is another story if necessary

6. I do not trust that the music will not be too loud.

>>> by the train tracks? Really?

7. Will these food trucks have to pay any kind of use fees to the City of Menlo Park for using up all those Caltrain parking spaces, and for disposing of the garbage they will generate? There is no room on those food trucks for the many garbage containers they will need, nor should they be allowed to carry garbage in the same area as food, so someone else will have to haul it away. No trucks = little garbage.

>>> I\'m sure they have to rent the space from Caltrain. No doubt MP will charge for a permit, which will include refuse removal. Typically the event organizer provides for additional trash receptacles and clean up - part of the overhead costs that the food truck operators pay to the organizer.

I hope any and all permissions for food trucks to operate here in Menlo Park will be withdrawn immediately. (I am aware of the operation on Middlefield at the Willows Market. I don\'t approve of it, either.)

>>> outside of your dislike for the Willow operation, note that their have been no complaints about garbage, noise, etc.

Food trucks are a very bad idea.

>>> don\'t go. The free market will determine its viability."


Posted by MairtinTJ, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jan 8, 2014 at 10:48 pm

In general, I am not opposed to food trucks but I am VERY OPPOSED to locating a food court on Ravenswood Avenue where I live. Ravenswood is already a traffic nightmare and it can only get worse with food trucks attracting more cars and generating congestion.


Posted by robin, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm

I do opposed the ideal of having food trucks we already have nightmare traffic on el camino by Ravenswood if you want this food trucks why you don't take theme by face book where is a lot open there and how you going to collect sale tax from theme and why you don't do something with the restaurant in the community how will benefit from this the city or the residents you are killing our city with this kind and you are not protecting our community and our local merchants we don't need air full of pollution and diesel gas NO


Posted by mary, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks,
on Jan 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by paul, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by matt, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by scott mayers, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jan 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by steve miller, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Jan 11, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by barbara of menlo, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton,
on Jan 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.


Posted by linda hill, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Jan 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Here is your answer take them to the other side of menlo by belle haven to park over there traffic is going to be night mare


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