Review of the last couple hundred comments (1051 to 1250) received on Proposed Vending Regulation Title 24

30 Aug

All of the past couple hundred comments were in support of food trucks.  Many used some version of the yesontitle24 sample letter.  Some added personal stories about eating from certain food trucks or expressed their opposition to attempts by brick and mortar restaurants to limit competition. 

Curbside Cupcake had the most specific shoutouts, followed by the Lobster Truck and Fojol Brothers. 

Below are some interesting comments submitted:

*********

I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please do not allow the introduction of any discriminatory language into these regulations that would limit mobile vendors or food trucks.

Please pass the regulations as written and protect the diverse, growing and small business vending options in the city.

Also, have you had the bahn mi sandwich from El Floridano? It’s so good. Every Friday. I don’t know what I would do without it. Food trucks are very hot right now. Regulating them or restricting them would significantly set back the food renaissance that is finally happening in the district.

We are slowly coming out of the dark ages of over priced, expense account meals and into the light of real, innovative food, real restaurants with real character. Believe me when i say that the people who are excited about food trucks are the same people who are going out and supporting the great new local restaurants at night as well. I am one of them.

Thank you,

Owen

Self proclaimed bon vivant and avid food enthusiast

*********

I would like to submit some brief comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Vending Regulations 24 DCMR 5 in particular section 556. In particular, several of the proposed rules would not benefit the general public who buy lunch (including myself, a District resident since 1997).

For example, the proposed 556.2 (b) reads: “(b) Once it is not in operation, the Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle may not re-open to serve customers at that same location.” I am struggling to understand the purpose of this rule or why DC needs to regulate whether a food truck such as Sauca, DC Slices, etc. can close temporarily and then re-open. There may be various periods of time where the truck needs to close, either because of inclement weather or to take advantage of a lull in customers.

The proposed 556.6 reads: “No mobile roadway vending business shall be located or transacted within forty feet (40 ft.) of any intersection or within any of the distances specified in this title; provided, that vehicles vending ice cream or other products likely to attract children as customers shall, when stopping to make a sale, park curbside outside of, but as close as possible to a pedestrian crosswalk without entering the intersection or otherwise interfering with the flow of traffic.” This requirement really does not make sense with the number of cuts/alleys/service roadways even along Massachusetts Ave. NW where I work. All legal parking spaces should be usable by food trucks/mobile vendors.

Finally, 556.8 reads: “No Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle subject to this section shall be parked within sixty feet (60 ft.) of a business with a fixed address that sells the same type of food.” This is out and out protectionism. It will be unenforceable. As citizen reading this, am I to assume that somewhere in the DC regs the various types of foods are laid out in some bizarre taxonomy that will be understandable to the average code enforcement officer? I think the opposite is true, that enforcement will be driven by complaints from overpriced dining options that are locked into high rents (despite the commercial real estate depression) and can’t cover their overhead. Why as a consumer in DC am I required to have less options because CafePhillips can’t compete with the food trucks along Mass Ave. NW?

I think that the proposed regulations should be re-worked to remove the protectionist language that is in there along with truck requirements identified by DC Vendors Caucus as superfluous (canopies, etc.) before passing this. There definitely should not be a “truck-only” spot created, as I have read some businesses want, and the rest of the city “truck-free”. This isn’t Denver or other cities where food trucks are treated as either a boutique curiosity or consigned to the “downtown” area because that’s where the big lunch demand is.

Karl

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I’d like to express my opposition to legislation that would restrict street vendors in DC. As a professional employee in the McPherson Square area, I depend on food truck menus to provide affordable and delicious alternatives to the over-priced likes of Cosi, Corner Bakery, Five Guys, Au Bon Pain, and other sub-par sandwich shops.

Also, I enjoy the diverse and varied fare that food trucks provide- not everyone wants to sit down in a restaurant that charges $10 or more for a wilted salad and soggy sandwich. Food truck entrepreneurs should be praised for their innovative ideas in food service, job creation, and fulfilling public appetite.

Please save DC food trucks!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

***********

I both live and work in DC and heartily support the proliferation of food trucks and street vendors in DC. Brick and mortar restaurants may be understandably concerned with the possibility of competition, but the DCRA’s regulations should not be predicated on preserving the existing monopoly of a brick and mortar restaurant. If a restaurant’s product is compelling, then they will compete successfully. There is room for all in the market. And in any event, the new vendors I have seen and/or patronized do not have a price point substantially lower than that of a brick and mortar restaurant, and do not appear to be siphoning business from existing businesses.

Food trucks and vendors add variety, diversity, color, life, options, and interest to our city. So long as they are regulated and sanitary, the proliferation of street vendors should be encouraged and supported. Consumers should be the paramount concern of the DCRA (and the city council for that matter) in this regard.

I had a lobster roll from a truck on Monday on Penn. Ave., which was delicious and brightened my day. It would not have happened but for the DCRA’s encouragement and pro-new business rules. And there was a line of people down the block. So clearly, this is something that is in demand and should be encouraged.

Please consider my comments in the record of this rule making proceeding, and thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Regards,

Brendan

***********

I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please make sure that the language in the regulation does not place undue burdens on mobile vendors or food trucks. For example, the design standards are arbitrary and don’t seem to have any basis. They appear to be a way to bog down a vendor without a safety or public purpose.

The restaurants may not like it because it is competition, but that only makes the restaurants better competitors. Efforts by restaurants to exclude vendors with the same type of food within an unreasonable distance (e.g., 60 feet) is an effort to quash the competition and should never be allowed.

Even more unfair is a suggestion that the mobile vendor not be within 25 feet of ANY restaurant. That would exclude mobile vendors from much of the downtown area. Does DC currently prevent restaurants serving the same food to locate adjacently? Or, from restaurants located adjacent to one another? The same standard should apply to mobile vendors.

Also, suggestions that the ANC be allowed to intervene and take public comment have nothing to do with health and safety issues. That allows local politics to dictate food. The vendors provide safe and nutritious food and with the appropriate level of oversight, food and traffic safety can be achieved.

Please pass the regulations without additional burdens and protect the diverse, growing and tasty options for those of us who work and live in this city.

Thank you,

Danielle

***********

I write in support of the new wave of food-vending trucks that have appeared on the DC culinary scene. While the regulations may need to smooth out questions of etiquette between mobile and landbased vendors, they should not impose restrictions that unfairly favor the brick and mortar establishments.

In fact I trust the health and safety of these trucks more than the vermin-infested buildings from which many restaurants operate. I’ve not seen a rat jump into a truck, but I have seen them invade tiny openings in the walkways/alleyways next to restaurants.

The choices available for us in the Golden Triangle have become much broader with the arrival of these trucks. I trust it will inspire more small businesses to open providing similar delights, such as cupcakes worth eating (Reeves is gone, Federal Bakery is gone), decent Indian food at a decent price, and now the latest indulgence for someone like me related to seafood restaurateurs in Maine — lobster roll and whoopie pies.

“Starving for inviting food at 14th and H”…

Peter

Yes to food trucks, but yes to Title 24 as written?

25 Aug

So, I am hopeful that the new regulations will be worked out to continue to keep mobile food trucks in DC, and so that the brick and mortar and mobile businesses can all get along.  Frankly, I don’t even really see the competition, if a cupcake truck is in farragut north I don’t see how it’s competing with the cupcake establishments in dupont or georgetown.  If I want a cupcake and I’m working downtown, I’m not going to fight traffic to get there and then stand in line at Georgetown Cupcake. But with all of the “yes to title 24″ hype, I think there are some problems with Title 24 as written:

 Section 556.1-556.2 – Taken together, these sections suggest that food trucks have to keep moving unless they have a customer, and if they are still sitting in the same spot without a customer, have to close. Once they do so they cannot re-open to serve customers at that same location. What if there is a 5 minute gap between customers, do they have to move then? If they are paying for the parking spot, as required by proposed Section 556.3, then why can’t they sit out the meter and keep serving customers that show up? Who’s going to enforce this? Can a food truck be forced to move by a meter enforcer even if they have paid the meter? If so, there’s a potential legal challenge there. A better, and more enforceable, solution would be to allow food trucks to sit in the parking space they have paid for.

Section 556.4 (which makes Section 535 apply to mobile food trucks)– “Vending Truck” requirements – is nonsensical. The section purports to be different than the sections of vending carts and vending stands, and yet requires umbrellas for food trucks. I have yet to see a food truck with an umbrella that meets the definition, other than perhaps FoodChainDC. (But FoodChainDC may be in a different position than other “trucks,” it seems like it could fit into the cart definition).

Section 556.8 – Fines for food trucks within 60 feet of an establishment selling the “same type of food” – This section may be “void or vagueness” as written. That doctrine provides that a government cannot impose fines on conduct that a reasonable person cannot tell is prohibited by the statute. As an example, is a cupcake truck the “same type of food” as a Starbucks that sells cupcakes and muffins? Since there is a Starbucks practically every block downtown, if that is how this is interpreted, that could make it hard to abide by the law. Is a lobster truck the “same type of food” as downtown restaurants like Kinkeads, DC Coast, etc. that serve seafood? Now, are my examples a reasonable interpretation? I wouldn’t consider those to be the same type of food myself, but I can imagine that restaurants that feel threatened would want a broad interpretation of this to keep competitors further away. A better solution would be to take this out or at the least, make it clearer when a food truck may be violating this provision. But why is this provision even necessary? How/who is going to enforce this anyway? MPD?

Section 538 – Advertising – I have seen at least one commenter suggest the restrictions on advertising to only advertising that is the name of the business, price, and food or service sold is an unconstitutional burden on free speech. Without weighing in on that issue at this point, there are some problematic issues for food trucks I see in this section. That advertising of the truck can only be on the “front” and not the back or street side (Section 538.2) seems unnecessary. That advertising has to be mechanically printed and not written (Section 538.4) could also be an unnecessary burden for some food trucks, I have seen handwritten descriptions of items for sale.

P.S. this is not to be construed in any way as legal advice, this is just my personal opinion.

Check out other stories on this debate:

DininginDC

WeLoveDC

Waffle Day – Top Chef DC (Grilled) Fried Chicken with Waffles

25 Aug

So my pre-Waffle Day attempt to make a grilled version of Top Chef DC Andrea’s buttermilk fried chicken with pecan cheddar waffles (episode 7, lobbyist law quickfire challenge) for a group of friends last night didn’t go so well. The gravy came out doughy (my fault probably because I’m not a gravy maker), but it didn’t have enough maple flavor to me as written, so I added more so that it would go more with the waffles. The waffles were delicious, I followed the recipe, although I substituted mild yellow cheddar cheese. Wrapping them in tinfoil kept the waffles hot and made the cheese I sprinkled on top of them all nice and melty as I went on the roof to grill the chicken. The biggest flaw was definitely my attempt at the grilled fried chicken. I’m not sure if the grill wasn’t oiled enough for breaded chicken, it was too hot,  or the pieces should have been bigger, but they wound up sticking and burning on the grill. Glad a girlfriend brought hot dogs! Since it was a fail, (and my friends were hungry : ), I didn’t take pictures. I don’t plan on giving up though! The combo seems too tasty to pass up.

Ingredients

Waffles:

2 cups flour

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Chopped pecans

Grated white cheddar (I used packaged shredded yellow cheddar)

Non-stick spray, as needed

Salt, to taste

Fried Chicken

1 chicken breast

1 cup flour

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp sriracha (or other spicy red sauce)

2 tbl fresh chopped chives

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Gravy

2 oz butter

2 oz flour

1 cup chicken stock (I used canned low-sodium chicken broth)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbl maple syrup (I used about 3)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

For the Waffle Batter:

1. Whisk together flour, eggs, baking powder, and sugar.

2. Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour in batter and sprinkle in pecans and cheese. Pour more batter over top and follow waffle iron procedure.

For the (Grilled) Fried Chicken:

1. Soak chicken in buttermilk, sriracha, and chives. Mix together flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and coat in flour mixture.

2. Spray grill with non-stick grill spray. Grill chicken until done (170 temp), check and flip as needed.  (I think I had the chicken on too high, I used 350 degrees, probably needs to be lower and cook longer).

For the Gravy:

1. Heat together butter and flour to make roux. Whisk in chicken stock, cream, and syrup. Simmer to gravy consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Review of the Taste of Mount Vernon Triangle

22 Aug

The taste was $15 in advance, $20 at the door this Saturday for the Taste of Mount Vernon Triangle, a restaurant crawl of triangle eateries: Buddha Bar, Kushi, Busboys and Poets, Taylor Gourmet, Harry’s Soul Cafe, Papa John’s, and soon-to-be Mandu.  Other than Buddha Bar, which did a great job, I think a $20 dollar fee was on the pricey side for what we got.  The whole experience was a bit disappointing actually.  It would have been nice if the restaurants had used the opportunity to show off and seek our business.

Buddha Bar

We were told to start here first, but I really wish we had wound up here last.    The staff was inviting and friendly, and we were presented with several options, including the Massachusetts Avenue roll, a salmon roll wrapped in cucumber, beef satay, tuna sashimi on a fried wonton, and a white sangria.

Kushi

The biggest disappointment was Kushi, for sure.  The staff basically ignored us and we were presented with a pre-packaged rice wrap with plum inside.  Wow. Coming there after Buddha Bar, it was obvious which one was the winner.

Busboys and Poets

I didn’t bother taking a picture of the non-alcoholic pomegranate lemonade we were served at the bar.  It was salty and tart.  We didn’t stay for long.

Taylor Gourmet

We had two choices of sandwiches – turkey and italian.  The italian was tasty, I would definitely go back for that sandwich, but the turkey was a bit skimpy.  We noshed on them at a table outside.

Mandu

Mandu hasn’t moved into the triangle yet, but they had a stand outside their new location.  We each got one seafood cake.  It wasn’t hot, and was a bit greasy, but it was tasty, even if we didn’t know what seafood was in it.  And  I appreciated that they participated.

Henry’s Soul Cafe

We were each given a small tart-sized sweet potato pie.  The pie filling was tasty as usual.  But it wasn’t exactly a great deal.  But since I love Henry’s, I can’t say anything else.

Papa John’s

They had several boxes of pizza to choose from.   It was cold, but we took multiple pieces and warmed them at home.  Not much else to say, I like Papa John’s pizza, and I was happy to have something to eat at that point!

So my overall summary: I hope that if they do this next year that the participating restaurants do more.  As a fellow Triangler, and someone who enjoys the food and drinks of Kushi and Busboys and Poets, I was a bit embarrassed by the poor showing by some; and I was glad friends couldn’t make it.  But I’m looking forward to going to Buddha Bar soon.

Top Chef DC Inspired English Pea Puree and Salmon

10 Aug

Inspired by the recent infamous “pea puree” episode I made my own version for us less experienced busy chefs and with ingredients that are easy to get.   I used orzo as a substitute for black forbidden rice, and didn’t marinate the salmon overnight.  I am a terrible plater, but I promise it is delicious!

This is a recipe for two:

Ingredients:

1 package salmon

Salt and pepper to taste

Salmon marinade:

1 tbsp champagne or balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp low fat maple syrup

1 tsp olive oil

A couple drops of worcestershire sauce

Orzo soaked in fennel broth:

1 box orzo

1 can low sodium chicken broth

1-2 shallots (optional)

1 tsp olive oil

Fennel and pear salad:

1/2 bulb fennel

Pear balsamic or balsamic vinegar

2 pears

1 red onion

Pea puree:

English peas (1 bag frozen)

1 pint low-fat or regular cream

Directions:

Slice one half of the fennel, the pears, and red onion.  Add a touch of balsamic or pear balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Soak overnight if you have time.

Warm up chicken broth.  Add ½ of the sliced fennel bulb. In a separate pan, sauté shallots until translucent (optional).  Add fresh parsley or rosemary (optional). Add orzo and olive oil and cook slowly.  Cooking the orzo slowly will allow it to absorb the flavor of the fennel.

Blanch peas in boiling salt water for one minute; shock in ice water.  Warm cream and reduce by half.  Combine cream and peas in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Mix together marinade ingredients and cover salmon.  Grill salmon.  Add fresh or dried parsley or rosemary or garlic (optional).

Plate and enjoy!

And beware of cat! Who knew they liked pea puree too?

The Gobble Dog

14 Jun

Another possibility for my Fourth of July hot dog grilling menu, the “Gobble Dog.” 

So here’s the recipe I plan on creating to make this:

Turkey Hot Dogs

Topped with:

Stuffing (Stouffer’s stovetop stuffing with some chopped celery and onions added)

Cranberry sauce (I don’t think I will find cranberries, so I will use the canned kind with some orange zest added)

Corn meal mush (cornmeal, water, salt, fried with fat free cooking spray)

Biscuits (instead of hot dog buns, likely use the Pillsbury all you do is pop them in the oven kind)

The recipe shown also has a “honey yam sauce.”  I’m not sure it’s needed for my purposes here, but if I have time, I will try to create a sweet sauce for the side with mashed sweet potatoes, low calorie maple syrup, I can’t believe it’s not butter, brown sugar, honey, and cinammon, maybe some molasses thrown in there too.  

Hmm, would adding mashed potatoes or gravy work…?

Will post pictures after I make it on the Fourth!

Why my blog?

14 Jun

I’ve been thinking about what makes my blog different, or if it is any different than any other blog.  I’m not a professional chef or professional food photographer or a professional blogger.  I guess the difference is that my recipes are, in general, healthy, low-fat, low-calorie, relatively easy to find the ingredients for and affordable (and I will put spoiler alerts when that is not the case) so that any busy young professional can make them, and so far, my friends have enjoyed them.  The other thing is that I’m really into theme menus, from holiday parties to romantic dinners for two.  Many sites will post a recipe, but they don’t then suggest pairing sides, wines, or making the food fit into a theme.

So if you have a theme you would like me to suggest a menu for, please go ahead and ask : )

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