Warmer temperatures are coming, and so is food truck season.
Hungry Philadelphians with a penchant for satiating street food are in luck, because the city was recently rated as one of the top U.S. cities for food truck vendors. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Food Truck Nation project looked at 20 U.S. cities to determine the economic impact of the industry, which is estimated to total more than $2 billion in revenue. The survey ranked Philly as the fourth friendliest city, coming in behind Portland, Oregon; Denver and Orlando, Florida, respectively.
The rankings came after a survey of 288 food truck owners who dished on their personal experience slinging truck grub. The study also considered the rules that regulated food truck operations in various cities.
So what makes Philly so friendly for food trucks?
Well, to start, Food Truck Nation said food truck owners referred to Philadelphia as “the Wild West” of the food truck world. The city ranked in the top three as a place to start a food truck business, with a cost of just $1,778 in fees to obtain permits and licenses. Compare that to Boston, where food truck owners pay approximately $17,066 to the government. Another plus for Philly is that its rules are fairly lenient for vendors. Few regulations apply directly to food trucks, according to Food Truck Nation, and enforcement is more about upholding food safety and sanitation.
“The flip side to this light overall regulatory touch is a very specific requirement by health inspectors that many food truck owners felt were burdensome,” the report said. “Every large event a truck vends at triggers a health inspection, which on top of the yearly review translates into anywhere from 10 to 30 inspections a year.”
On the downside, Philly vendors complained that there is inconsistent enforcement of regulations, such as where they can park and what times of day or night they can vend. For example, some trucks can stay open after midnight, while others can't, and sometimes vendors can park within 30 feet of another food truck, but only in certain areas. Another restrictive element in Philly is that approvals are needed to set up shop in Philly’s popular spots — so Center City is pretty much off-limits, according to the report.
The five worst cities for food trucks are Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle, according to Food Truck Nation’s report.
Mega-metropolises Los Angeles and New York City didn’t stand out much in the study; they were ranked in eighth and ninth place, respectively.
Philadelphians can indulge in some of the city's best food trucks and gourmet food vendors at the upcoming Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival, which will be held on April 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.