The New York Times published an article last week titled “Coming to Terms with a Street Food Boom” that looked at the significant increase in mobile eateries in the Bay Area, and the attendant backlash from fixed-location eateries, also known as restaurants and cafes. The fixed-location eateries complain that by not having to pay rent, the street food vendors are able to charge lower prices for complementary items. San Francisco’s health department is concerned that mobile vendors may be operating without proper health permits, and since they are not tied to a sedentary location, it is harder to regulate these vendors.
What is interesting is how street food eateries are perceived by restaurants and cafes with fixed locations as threats. Tangentially, this could be seen as an instance of the city-dweller facing off against the nomad, angry over their mobility. In a down economy, the mobility allows the vendor both to go to their customer, and to move throughout the day and week. The restaurant or cafe does not have this luxury. Of course, a city without sit-down places to grab food, coffee, or a beer would be a city without places to socialize. But to add a twist to this free-flowing thought, what if street-drinking was allowed, so you could have an Anchor Steam while sitting on the curb, eating your street taco? Then the street itself becomes the social space completely.