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Santa Rosa restaurateurs decry mobile food vendor events

  • Street-Eatz Flavors of the World co-owner Jillian Dorman, left, grabs an order for a customer from Delfino Solorio during Munch Monday in Santa Rosa on Monday, February 7, 2011.

A street food fight has broken out in downtown Santa Rosa between restaurateurs and the growing group of food truck operators they say are eating their lunch.

Owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants are steamed that the city's has been promoting the mobile food fair known as Munch Mondays, creating additional competition at a time when they can least afford it.

"It's really a slap in the face to those restaurants who have committed themselves to the downtown in the long run," said Stuart Patterson, an owner of Flavor bistro on courthouse square.

Food Trucks In Santa Rosa

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But the street food vendors say the restaurant owners need to spend less time trying to protect their turf and more time adapting to changes in the market and thinking about the big picture of a healthy downtown.

"I think if they made the best of it, they'd realize that a rising tide lifts all boats," said Andrew Siegal, co-owner of Dim Sum Charlie's, a Napa-based business with two trucks, a third in the works, and plans for a total of 12.

Munch Mondays started Jan. 10 with a five mobile kitchens and food carts converging on a city parking lot on Third Street south of the library. To help them get around a city ordinance that requires such trucks to move every 30 minutes, city staff helped organize, promote and permit the event. The trial period lasts eight weeks.

On Monday there were seven vendors and discussions are underway to expand to an evening event in Railroad Square.

The goal was to spice up the city's food scene, help Santa Rosa take part in a nationwide trend, and draw some needed attention to the downtown scene, said city economic development specialist Raissa De La Rosa.

"If we don't do that, the downtown can feel stale," she said.

City promotions also urged people to patronize downtown restaurants, but that fact appears to have been lost on many restaurant owners.


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