It's not only up to entrepreneurs to scribble all over this blank canvas. It's up to public officials to think about how a change in food truck regulations could boost the local economy. These trucks are basically small business incubators on wheels — why not figure out how to help them?

Today's successful food truck could be tomorrow's successful brick-and-mortar restaurant. The city of Phoenix needs to loosen up its stringent street-vending requirements, and Maricopa County should clear up gray areas in inspection and licensing of mobile food units. I've talked to a lot of frustrated entrepreneurs who long for straightforward rules and more leeway in where and when they can set up shop.

There's still more to be done with late-night dining. Old Town Scottsdale has the most options on that front, with a handful of high-end eateries offering creative, affordable eats for folks in the hospitality industry and night owls alike. Central Phoenix, on the other hand, is discombobulated. Maybe support for food trucks could spark an after-hours street-food scene.

Pop goes the restaurant: Cycle will change it up.
claire lawton
Pop goes the restaurant: Cycle will change it up.

Location Info


The Arrogant Butcher

2 E. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Central Phoenix


The Arrogant Butcher
2 E. Jefferson St., #150

1100 N. Central Ave.

Citizen Public House
7111 E. 5th Ave Ste. E, Scottsdale

Big Earl's BBQ
7213 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale

Bonfire Grill & Bar
7210 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale

Viet Kitchen
114 W. Adams St

Tien Wong
2330 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler

Looking at the bigger picture, there's been a tangible evolution in our food-loving community over the past few years, especially as virtual relationships through social media have spawned real-world partnerships, fund-raisers, food trends, and social events. The dining public is becoming more informed by the minute, and chefs are noticeably more responsive to customers. Many change their menus weekly or daily, and some even have their own blogs. It's easier to interact than it was in 2005.

Yeah, I do think that culinary festivals have jumped the shark (do we really need so many? It's exhausting and redundant). But other than that, I'm rooting for anything that brings people together and creates compelling dialogue. The next big things in Phoenix dining — the things that really put us on the map as an important U.S. market — won't be created in a vacuum, but will be sparked by unconventional collaborations and unexpected conversations.

Got your own ideas about what Phoenix needs to achieve culinary greatness? Make it happen.

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Thanks for your contribution over the years Michele - you have become a trusted source of information in my household. After living in a place where celebrating food is a way of life and food festivals occur weekly (New Orleans), I have to say that while yes, the lineup at some of the food festivals here is bit redundant, that isn't what keeps me from most of them... it is the price of attendance. After having "made it happen" for the last 5 years as a Special Events Coordinator for two different events, I now know why... the cost of permitting and the associated overhead of booth setup. Public safety aside (all for it!), the County is no more consistent in this area than they are in general restaurant inspections or requirements for food trucks. No one wants to put a product out there that puts the general public in harm's way, just give us one set of rules to follow, and make damned sure that when I attend another event as a ticketholder that I see the same rules and regs being enforced... nothing worse than seeing "for profit" events seemingly "getting away" with things that we "non profit" events pay thru the nose to abide by...


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Thanks, Michele. Missing you already!

But tell me: why does the "incubator" concept have to be mobile? Restrictions exist to protect public health, not to squash entrepreneurial enthusiasm. I WANT health inspectors to certify an operation is sanitary and in compliance before it opens it doors, and to periodically re-inspect to maintain those standards. How does one hit a moving/mobile target in order to provide those safeguards? Not as easily, I think.

Let's take a different approach entirely. Local municipalities, in conjunction with mall managers, could set up a system that gives priority to applications from newbies to take over recently vacated stalls in food courts. Sadly, in this economy, there are probably dozens of available spaces county-wide. I for one would welcome the opportunity to have new dining alternatives, instead of the same old, re-hashed franchisee outposts that doom our collective palates to mediocrity.

We're so quick to offer monetary incentives in an effort to draw big business to this state; how about the little guy? Give him free rent for six months, and the opportunity to try out his concept where foot traffic is guaranteed. If at the end of that period of time, he is not sufficiently profitable to pay rent, his space goes to the next person on the waiting list.

In that scenario, you've eliminated the start-up costs of vehicle and insurance, fluctuating fuel prices, and the logistics of keeping food temperatures safe in a mobile environment. There are, after all, good reasons why the term "roach coach" came into being.

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Jack Meyhoffer
Jack Meyhoffer

Great article, thanks so much. Thank you for all your great work over the years- you will be missed.


Indonesian and Afghan restaurants needed!