Downtown Raleigh had thousands of people over for dinner Sunday night. They converged on Fayetteville Street for the citys third and largest food truck rodeo featuring about 70 trucks.
Its amazing how many people will come out for the eclectic meals offered out of an open window by an enterprise on wheels. And its amazing that until recently Raleigh was uneasy with the idea.
The citys hesitancy reflected the concerns of brick-and-mortar restaurants about the food truck trend. Restaurants worried that theyd lose customers to food truck operators who dont have a restaurants overhead or its tax bill.
For a while Durham was capturing the food truck traffic by easing regulations on street-side food service. But now the Capital City is coming around to what should have been obvious from the start: the more, the merrier and the merrier, the more profitable for everyone.
Greg Hatem, who owns five downtown dining spots, says the food truck competition has actually improved business because food truck customers often end up visiting a downtown bar or restaurant. Thats especially welcome on what otherwise might be a sleepy Sunday evening in August.
For the most part, its been great, Hatem told The News & Observer. He added, We dont think food trucks are competition to brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Indeed, the success of the food truck rodeos says more about demand than competition. The young adults who drive the trend are a growing demographic group in Raleigh.
They are reshaping the citys core, increasing its downtown residents and expanding its range of restaurants, entertainment and art. Businesses whether on wheels or foundations can do well by catering to their tastes.