The New York Halal Food cart, North Pleasant Street
Most small business owners would agree that competition is a healthy thing, because when products compete they get better. At the same time, however, most small business owners would prefer their competition die an instant unhealthy death.
So it comes as no surprise -- especially in this treacherous economy -- that some downtown restaurant owners don't like the idea of a couple of competitors rolling into town every morning and setting up shop for the day, selling relatively cheap hot food to customers on the go.
Kind of like the Athenian fleet outmaneuvering and mercilessly pounding the larger lumbering Persian fleet at the battle of Salamis.
But is that really direct (unfair) competition with our bricks-and-mortar establishments, who pay (or the owners of the property who pass it along) the ultra high $20/$1,000 valuation tax rate, plus the additional extra overhead of a Business Improvement District tax?
Chance are the people who grab a quick bite to go were not about to spend the time and extra money for a fancier sit down meal anyway, so probably not. This tempest in a teapot has arisen numerous times over the past thirty years and usually goes away when winter sets in, making outdoor dining far less hospitable.
The street vendors pay for their town license, pay for the gas to get to their location and run the generators and, mainly, put in all the time necessary to make it work.
If the town is going to limit those food cart licenses as a form of protectionism, then perhaps they should also think about limiting the number of taxi business licenses sold (now at nearly a dozen) as cutthroat competition has led to maintenance short cuts and bottom of the barrel drivers providing unsafe driving conditions for customers.
As long as the business playing field is level, then let the unmerciful market decide.