Curry Up Now takes heat from City of Burlingame

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on November 11, 2009

One would think that the City of Burlingame would be pleased that a new, fun, delicious, nouveau food truck is gracing their community. Sadly, though, this is not the case as Curry Up Now‘s founder Akash Kapoor is being pressured by restaurateurs, business leaders and even city officials to get him out of the downtown strip.

The San Mateo County Times reports:

Officials have yet to discuss publicly whether they want to support the free enterprise interests of the trucks or prevent them from encroaching on local brick-and-mortar businesses. No meetings on the topic have been scheduled, as policymakers await the results of staff research.

Opinions on the matter seem split. Patricia Love, the city’s economic development specialist, said she has “gotten comments all over the board” in researching the issue.

Inquires from merchants have prompted police to ask the truck to move 500 feet every half-hour, and the owner has been cooperative, Burlingame police Capt. Mike Matteucci said. The truck is fully permitted to operate in the city, he said.

But Chamber of Commerce CEO Georgette Naylor, Downtown Burlingame Business Association President Kevin Osborne and Mayor Ann Keighran said local merchants have been groaning about the truck. Mostly, they said, shops think the truck has swooped in without having to pay the high rents properties fetch near Burlingame and Howard avenues.

In other words, restaurant owners are upset because they can’t compete. Boo-freakin’-hoo.

Worse still, city officials seem to be listening, and the truck may get run out of its prime location:

[Mayor] Keighran has been talking to business leaders and said they plan to meet with the truck’s owners. She said it may make sense to move the truck toward Bayside Park, where there are sports games and a lack of takeout food options.

But Kapoor said that would be tantamount to moving his truck out of the city.

I sent emails to Mayor Ann Keighran, Patricia Love and Akash Kapoor to get more details. I will update as soon as I know more.

Update 10:00 am Pacific Time: I just got off the phone with Akash Kapoor, who told me that a second truck is already in the works for San Francisco. He says that he’d like to work it out with the city, but doesn’t want to get into a protracted legal battle.

“If we have to move to Bayside Park, we’ll just move to San Francisco,” he said.

“I don’t have the energy to fight,” he added. “I’d rather just move 10 miles down and I know people will come.”

He also estimated that 80 percent of his customers are coming from outside of Burlingame, and in some cases, probably spend money in other city businesses, too.

“We have people coming from Santa Cruz and Sacramento. I wouldn’t come that far, but they come.”

Still no word from city officials.

Update 3:30 pm Pacific Time: Patricia Love responds:

“As highlighted in the article, some people love the convenience and price of the food the truck offers, others comment that they think it tastes great, some are concerned about the competition with local restaurants, others have concerns about safety in terms of traffic and pedestrians, and some are just curious about the truck and regulations. Take a look at the Burlingame Voice for a sample of some of these opinions.”

“The City does not have any actions in the works about vendor trucks. We are just collecting information and getting up-to-speed on the topic. Feel free to share any information you have with us if you think it would be helpful.”

“We are doing research so we can better understand the various laws that may pertain to this issue. We are also listening to what everyone has to say.”

Concerning the possible move to Bayside Park:

“The City hasn’t asked that as far as I know. I think some people may think it would be good for him to move his truck to an area without a lot of restaurants.”

“From the quote in the article, it doesn’t look like anyone has asked them to move. It sounds like the mayor was just throwing out the idea that an under-served area (Bayside Park area) might benefit from access to the food.”

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    “The truck is fully permitted to operate in the city, he said.”

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