Ladue Food Trucks Have Started Rolling—Now We Need to Step on the Gas
I hoped that Show-Me Institute videos, testimonies, and articles would bring needed reform to food truck policy in Ladue, and it seems like these efforts have at least gotten the ball rolling. I mean, how could anyone oppose the undeniable truth of a street interview? While there are still far too many restrictions on food truck operation, I commend Ladue officials for removing the blanket ban on food trucks and taking a first step in allowing this lucrative, fun, and growing industry to establish a foothold (or parking space) in their city.
Although the ban was removed, strict regulations still exist, as food trucks must be part of a special event, which is a serious obstacle. Special events require a thirty-day notice prior to the date, and if a special event uses more than eight vendors (among other stipulations), then 120 days of notice are required. These rules constrain opportunities for food trucks in Ladue, making the city an occasional stop rather than a hub.
The scale of the food truck industry has skyrocketed in recent years, as the number of businesses has increased from 9,705 in 2012, to 22,474 in 2018, to 35,512 in 2022. Ladue regulations prevent the city from effectively capturing sizeable sales tax revenue, increased options for consumers, and job opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.
For consumers, food trucks provide on-the-go food options to those on lunch break, on a walk with their children, or hanging out with friends. The increased competition drives down prices and provides increased choices (including niche ones) to consumers.
Permission to more easily operate in Ladue could lead to more permanent businesses in the city. If a food truck found success in Ladue, food truck operators may decide to establish traditional brick-and-mortar locations in the city. This isn’t just hypothetical—food trucks have turned into traditional restaurants elsewhere in St. Louis.
Most anxieties about food trucks are unfounded. If concerns exist regarding restaurant surplus, increased competition helps create a more efficient economy. If policymakers fear exacerbating the labor shortage in restaurants, the average food truck business has 1.2 employees. Whatever the worry may be, food trucks should not be strictly limited to special events, and Ladue would benefit from food trucks being able to fully and freely operate within its borders.