ECON 'The Suffering Is Severe': DC's Once Booming Food Truck Scene Now Almost Gone

Cardinal

Snark: a higher form of communication
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After years of a charming boom in popularity, Washington, D.C.'s popular boutique food truck industry is suffering the fatal consequences of the China coronavirus lockdown.


The fast-moving staff of Capitol Hill, the attornies of Penn Quarter, and tourists from all over the world found common enthusiasm for the trucks, tracking the locations of their favorites and waiting in anticipation for the best quick nosh on their lunch breaks. Diners young and old, poor and rich followed trucks around the city from the sleek office buildings of Arlington, to the National Mall, to forest greenery of Cleveland Park.

Now, the trucks and their affordable meals of hot dogs, pho, and tacos are closing their sliding doors and leaving town. The COVID-19 shutdowns have essentially eliminated foot traffic in the district and all the trucks' customers with it. The chairman of DMV Food Trucks Association Zack Graybill told WTOP that nearly all trucks have been forced to leave the city or soon will be.

"In peak season, according to the Department of Health, there’s [sic] approximately 900 food trucks that come to D.C.,” said Graybill, who also owns fan-favored pizza trucks, D.C. Slices. “Now, 90% are not vending in D.C. anymore ... The suffering is severe,” said Graybill. "It's bleak."

Graybill pointed to the disappearing midday crowd that was populated by the thriving commuter presence in D.C. as the main cause of the industry wipeout. During healthy times with no shutdown, D.C.'s population notably increases nearly 80 percent to over 1 million. Now, as government workers, congressional staffers, and many other office employees have been relegated to working from home, that notable swell has vanished entirely. Permanent residents of the city have also fled for safer, roomier quarters with the telecommuting mandate.

"Our bread and butter was our lunchtime crowds," Graybill said. "Office workers, streaming out of their buildings, could easily get a meal from us. The majority of people are no longer working from their offices." Other restaurants in D.C. have also struggled tremendously to stay open with the lockdown orders, now in their fifth month. Most closed for more than a month only to partially reopen for to-go food only.


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Various spikes in COVID-19 cases in the district have caused Democrat mayor Muriel Bowser to increase lockdown orders, including mandatory mask-wearing in all areas outside the home. The repeated lockdowns have caused restaurants in general to struggle, many unable to open at all since the beginning of lockdown.

Even with the more limited competition, food trucks have struggled more than other food service establishments to cater to a missing crowd of people. With more choices and far fewer customers, Graybill said, the competition was stiff. Many food truck operators facing permanent closure have turned to family and friends for financial assistance. But that money, like the money loaned through the CARES Act, will not last forever.

D.C. food trucks, it seems, are doomed. Without a permanent reopening plan for cities that begins imminently, many will face permanent closure.
 

zeker

Veteran Member
i remember in my youth

heading to construction sites for the noon day meat pies

we considered ourselves fortunate to be by a construction site while doing our job

household furniture movers

I grew up beside a mom/pop variety store/bakery

the wife ran the store while dad made pies

we were always too poor to avail ourselves of the pies etc

but the smells invading our bedrooms were 'to die for'

later I found the same mom/pop smells from the construction sites

(it mite have been projection)

i have not been to a FOoD TRUCK IN 40 YRS

BUT i WILL EVER FORGET

sry fat fingerz
 

AlfaMan

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Some of the DC food trucks serve great food. Most of them though, makes one wonder how they got approved by the DC health dept. to sell food .
 

Shooter

Veteran Member
I live near a small town about 15 miles west of Omaha Ne, the town facebook group has been getting different food truck to come to town a couple times a week, they set up in the school parking lot. last nite was a Philly truck. was supposed to be there from 4 till 8. he ran out of food just after 6. the town dont have a regular resturant, so the trucks are a nice break in food
 

Illini Warrior

Veteran Member
sounds like nothing but re-distribution of the marketplace - trucks have to give up that lucrative $$$ DC FED office worker biz and head out to the construction sites and factories without a cafeteria - lower those $$$ prices ...
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Not here, food trucks have taken off and big time. Some eateries are still closed or are doing delivery only, that's by choice and not state mandate. We got lunch from one of our favorite texmex food trucks today pork tamales and steak burritos, yum.
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Oh and the best news as of last week, our town is the first in the state to be approved for a mobile margarita unit... too bad I'm allergic to citrus cause I would gladly socially distance in line for a decent margarita! :lol:
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
I live near a small town about 15 miles west of Omaha Ne, the town facebook group has been getting different food truck to come to town a couple times a week, they set up in the school parking lot. last nite was a Philly truck. was supposed to be there from 4 till 8. he ran out of food just after 6. the town dont have a regular resturant, so the trucks are a nice break in food
there are plenty of places to eat here both fast food and sit down with cloth napkin types... that said there are days when I love going to a food truck, get something quick to eat, most set out wooden benches to sit on and dine, and then go back home. It beats fast food and in spades. Sometimes we take our meal over to one of the parks near the river, park by the water, and eat while sitting on the tailgate watching the wildlife do its thing.
 
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