On the other hand, Hardesty argues, food trucks and stationary restaurants aren't necessarily in competition for the same customers, even when they're in close proximity to one another: "No food truck would complain that a bricks-and-mortar place opened at our favorite [parking] spot," he says.

Compared to the surrounding metro area, St. Louis city officials' pursuit of accommodation and reconciliation is the exception rather than the rule. The city of Clayton, for instance, categorizes food trucks under existing ordinances that prohibit selling goods on the street or the sidewalk. Though food trucks aren't banned outright — they may participate in vendor-friendly affairs such as the Clayton Farmers' Market — you won't find them outside an office tower during weekday lunch hours.

"We've talked to our restaurants — we have over 80 of them in a two-and-a-half-square-mile area," Gary Carter, who heads Clayton's Office of Economic Development, told Riverfront Times last summer. "They're concerned that they've invested in brick and mortar. Rent is above average in Clayton, on top of the recession and the investment they've made."

Webster Groves, meanwhile, passed an ordinance last year restricting food trucks from the three areas the municipality has designated as "special business districts."

Roger Grow, the city's director of planning and development, says the matter arose after a cupcake vendor "set up in one of the business districts, right outside a restaurant. That's when we decided to examine our regulations."

Grow characterizes the ordinance as an exercise in fairness: In special business districts, on top of property costs and other unavoidable expenses, property owners pay additional taxes and businesses pay a 50 percent surcharge on their licenses. (The fees support publicly funded events within those districts.)

Kara Bowlin says the city considers its food-truck regulations a work in progress. "We are looking at other cities," she says, noting that "it doesn't seem like any one city has an excellent plan everyone's happy with."

Adds Bowlin: "We're fans of good food, whether it's from truck, restaurant or stationary vendor," provided that everyone plays by fair rules.

In the meantime, Cha Cha Chow hasn't given up on Broadway and Pine. The week after being evicted, the truck tweeted that it had found a spot that was 200 feet away from the nearest restaurant. To make sure, the Cha Cha Chow staff had determined the distance with a tape measure.

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Cha Cha Chow got kicked out of Broadway/Pine area Thurs., Jan. 26. Here is Cha Cha's Facebook Post: Cha Cha Chow All I know is what the police said...Some one called, refused to name themselves, but complained we were to close. I told them I measured and we are more than 200' from any restaurant. They then said not from Kemolls...I laughed... really t...hey're more the 200' above us. they said no it's to the doors of the Met building...I tried to argue the point..to no avail..they then claimed we were too close to another food truck...honestly, these rules are just getting old..

Mike Seely
Mike Seely

The city should let food trucks park wherever they want north of Delmar and especially Old North near Crown Candy. They could stand to help revitalize certain pockets of the city, where there are few or no restaurants to speak of.


Just ignore the roach coaches, their little fad will last another year with the final stragglers dieing off sometime in the 2nd year. If it wasn't for annoying fucking hipsters and their little fads, an overabundance of overweight office workers and a dogshit economy these trucks wouldn't exist.


@ihatesuburbs so which restaurant do you work at whose shitty food is bypassed by the availability of nearby food trucks? lol

Randy like.author.displayName 1 Like

why the 200 ft restraining order? that doesn't apply to brick and mortar eateries, why should it apply to food trucks?


@Randy my thoughts exactly. its a backwards concept which discourages competition and is counter intuitive. a food truck has 200 foot limit, but a brick and mortar restaurant could set up LITERALLY NEXT DOOR , with no regulation? huh??