|Updated: 4/20/2012 5:39 pm
||Published: 4/20/2012 5:21 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Little Rock's new fascination with food trucks has some downtown restaurants owners upset. They say it is unfair competition while the Downtown Little Rock Partnership is trying to make it all work.
There's a new downtown lunch option. It's week two of Food Truck Friday’s with three mobile vendors set up at Capital and Main.
It's just a block from several existing restaurants.
Eric Tinner owns Sports Page and Sufficient Grounds. He feels the food trucks are too close.
"This is not a matter of offering more diversity. This is you're adding more competition to an already saturated market," Tinner says.
He says business at his restaurants and others in downtown were down considerably on Friday the last two weeks and feel the trucks are to blame.
Sharon Priest with the Downtown Little Rock Partnership says Food Truck Friday’s is about jump-starting Main Street, not hurting restaurants.
"I would think there would be or there should be enough business for everyone," Priest says. "All my life I've always heard competition is good."
"Competition is great, it drives everybody to excel but put it on a level playing field," Tinner says.
Tinner says he has skin in the downtown game, investing in remodeling his building and having to pay for building and fire insurance.
"That's not happening with the food truck,” Tinner says. “They're coming in, they're cherry picking and then they're taking their money they've made now back to wherever their home is, they're not reinvesting in the area."
Food truck vendors say the differences between the two are small.
"I have to fill out the same tax forms plus I have to make sure my motor is working,” Jeffrey Palsa with Little Rock Food Truck says. “My prices are comparable, I don't have tables, I can't come out in the rain so they're crybabies."
"I pay taxes too,” Roy Windham with Royal Kabob Wagon added. “We're all doing the same thing. We're trying to feed the people and have a good time."
And hold on to and perhaps grow their downtown customer base.
"The food truck guys, they're not bad guys,” Priest says. “The bricks and mortar guys, they're not bad guys. Everybody is just trying to make a living."
The Food Truck Friday’s is a pilot program set to run through the end of June. Priest says at that time the DLRP will reevaluate and decide whether to continue it.