Now that Northeast Ohio food trucks have won small battles with the City of Cleveland — and the hearts of hungry downtown customers — many are expanding into the suburbs.
Touch Supper Club parks outside The Bottlehouse Brewery in Cleveland Heights on Thursday nights, and Umami Moto is at youth league games in Shaker Heights. We have seen StrEat Mobile at office buildings in Beachwood’s Commerce Park, and the Beachwood High School’s Green Dream eco-friendly business expo in April lined up six trucks in an outdoor food court.
These companies let their Twitter followers and Facebook followers know where they are; some map their locations on their websites.
These outdoor, mobile bistros aren’t serving up your typical street food: think rotating menus featuring upscale tacos and new American/Asian food fusion dishes, and savory new twists on traditional street food, like pulled pork.
But there’s a catch.
Dim and Den Sum, by all accounts the first food truck to take to the streets in Cleveland, spent two months in 2010 gathering 14 pieces of official paper totaling about $2,800 before it was street legal, according to The Plain Dealer.
Soon after chef Chris Hodgson’s battle with Cleveland’s red tape, the city took steps to streamline the process for food trucks.
Now the trucks have their eyes on the suburbs, and this could prove to be a much longer battle -- there's three dozen cities in Cuyahoga County alone, each with different laws, demographics and personalities.
Beachwood’s lack of a public square and sparse foot traffic does not lend to successful lunches for food trucks looking to park in public spaces — nor is it legal for retail food vendors to operate on the streets.
So far, said Mayor Merle Gorden, Beachwood officials have not seen any problems with food trucks, and he did not take a strong stance about their presence.
Gorden said the city does not oppose businesses inviting food trucks to their parking lots to serve their employees.
“We have no problem with food service vehicles on private property,” Gorden said.
But if the trucks draw customers off the property — and not just employees of the offices whose property they were on — it could be a different story, he said.
“What we don’t want to see is food service trucks driving down the street — that becomes a safety concern with people running in the street,” Gorden said.
He added that the city would review its laws if an issue emerges.
The StrEat Mobile Bistro has visited Commerce Park; and at the Beachwood City Schools’ annual Green Dream business expo, half a dozen trucks, including StrEat Mobile, Mobile Cupcakery, Zydeco Bistro and Umami Moto, lined up in the Beachwood Community Center parking lot.
Many large corporations, however, cannot invite food trucks onto their properties because of contracts with their cafeterias, said StrEat Mobile Bistro owner Izzy Schachner.
StrEat Mobile occasionally parks near Progressive Insurance in Mayfield Heights.
Universities have similar rules, he added. “I can’t wait for them (local colleges and universities) to start letting us on campus.”
Next week, we’ll tell you about one suburb that has welcomed food trucks with open arms.
Have you tried these food trucks? Tell us what you think in the comments!