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Friday, November 13, 2009

Maximizing Cincinnati's after-hours street vending community

In an earlier writing I generally discussed street vendors in Cincinnati – the role they play in the social life of urban spaces, how Cincinnati’s street vendor scene compares with other cities around the country, and how the city might work to increase the number and diversity of street vendors.

Since that time the very exciting announcement has been made that two new taco trucks will be joining Cincinnati’s street vendor scene, and Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Flechet has indicated an interest in creating a waffle cart to be used around town.

Kogi Korean BBQ Truck (by Kineda) & a Koreatown Taco Truck (by Gourmet Magazine) - both in Los Angeles

At the same time I noticed the revolving door of late-night food establishments has continued on its 360 degree angle as Balboa’s near 7th & Vine streets has closed down. It would seem that these late night establishments would thrive with the lower overhead costs of street vending operations whether they be trucks, carts or stands along side the road.

No longer would these businesses have to shoulder the burden of a 24 hour lease for a three to four hour operation. The new business model would also allow the vendors to travel about following the fickle nightlife crowd across the city. Heck, the reduced overhead may even enable the entrepreneurs to open up secondary operations in other popular night life destinations across the city.

From the city’s end it would seem to ease the tension of businesses opening and closing as frequently as they struggle to make ends meet in a low-margin operation, while at the same time providing the same services and social life that comes along with these businesses.


Leiflet said...

...sorry, but Hyde Park Tavern and Habenero do not count as taco trucks, in my book.

I've eaten street food in Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Any one of those trucks would whupp these gringo's wannabe graffiti trucks anyday.

Randy Simes said...

It's a step in the right direction at least. I'm just looking for ways in which we could grow the amount and variety of street vendors in Cincinnati. The late night food businesses seem to be low-hanging fruit. Maybe from there these places could expand and show up to random events, or just wherever and start selling their food.

The low overhead combined with the flexibility of location seem to be perfect for these types of small businesses.

Troy said...

A good street food scene is an important sign of life in a city, but is downtown big enough to support it? Will the weather? Dunno, but I'd make trips downtown for good street food. There's a great square in Portland where I could find real Polish cooking, and it's on my list of places to hit the next time I'm flying out west.

Dave Rolfes said...

In doing a little research this morning, I also found this group that is "getting ready to roll" (bad pun, I know).

Randy Simes said...


I'm not sure Cincinnati can support the street food scene found in NYC or even Portland for that matter, but I think it's definitely large enough to support one of its own kind.

With that said, the late night food businesses seem to be prime targets for an initial push on this front. If success is found there for these businesses then I could see them expanding operations to special events, lunch time hot spots, and so on.

Simón said...

As the resident Mexican-American, may I say that I think this is cool. Is it the "real deal"? Not really. Is it still cool? Absolutely. I'll definitely purchase something from any trucks that provide vegetarian options.

Tracy said...

Actually there is another Taco truck on the way to Cincinnati. It looks to be pretty authentic and the owners are from Los Angeles. It is called Taco Azul, The Cincy Taco Truck. They have a fan page on Facebook, but I did not see a website up yet. Looking forward to this one. I wont link it, but here is their facebook page "Cincy Taco Truck - Azul"

Randy Simes said...

Thanks for the tip Tracy. I'm currently trying to get in touch with the owner and see if I can get some more details. Would love to find their Twitter account they mention on the Facebook page, but haven't been successful yet.

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