It doesn’t shock me that food trucks have become an object of debate in Castro Valley. It seems that our community spends so much time and energy focusing on small potatoes like signage and landscaping and now food trucks that we can’t focus on the meaty topics like our schools or a future vision for our community.
Nevertheless, I’m going to wade into the food truck debacle, but hopefully I’m not wading in alone. There is something in comic books called a crossover event, you know Spiderman meets Alpha Flight meets She-Hulk, (I think I just made myself She-Hulk), and hilarity ensues. I have invited a couple of other Patch bloggers to wade into this mess with me, sort of a community blog crossover. I think we all have similar views, but different voices and different reasons for believing food trucks can and will benefit our town.
In case you are unaware, this is the argument: a group is trying to bring food trucks to Castro Valley on a weekly basis. Some Castro Valley business and restaurant owners oppose this idea because they feel it will detract from their bottom line.
Let me make it clear, I’m not trying to attack any Castro Valley business owners. I support our businesses as much as possible. I don’t know if you remember, but I’m the guy that made a New Year’s resolution to visit every Castro Valley restaurant this year. That being said, I think trying to block food trucks is counterproductive and closed minded.
The owners of these businesses wrongly assume that if the food trucks were not in Castro Valley, customers would be dining in Castro Valley restaurants. I challenge this rational. Firstly, it’s not an either/ or situation, we talk about food on a fairly regular basis on CVLegends, and the fact of the matter is many people, unhappy with Castro Valley’s dining options, choose to leave town to eat.
Food trucks are trendy and hip, they generate buzz, they draw new people into the community- new people that may otherwise never come to our town. Folks that may see CV brick and mortar restaurants and want to try them later, folks that may start to equate Castro Valley as hip. Folks that may need to get gas, groceries, or lip gloss after visiting the food trucks. Folks that may make it a Castro Valley night by eating and then visiting Chabot Cinema, Golfland, or the Village Bowl. Folks that may decide to get a nightcap at a Castro Valley bar or a cup of coffee at one of our coffee shops or dessert. Rather than detracting from CV’s businesses and downtown, food trucks have the potential to draw dollars into Castro Valley.
Why do auto dealerships crowd together, why do you find dentists and doctors in the same area of town, why does Berkeley have an area affectionately known as the “gourmet ghetto?” It is more than zoning, it is synergy, it has been proven that when like businesses clump together they do better as a whole- like a herd of gazelle. More food options make Castro Valley more competitive.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in the midwest, I have been to lots of small towns that only have one or two restaurants, a couple of businesses, these towns are dying because they don’t have the amenities to attract people. It is not very lucrative to have a monopoly but no customers.
I mentioned monopoly, and that may be the elephant in the room, I learned in ECON 101 that competition is good for the consumer. Food trucks provide variety for the people of Castro Valley, they allow us to choose what types of food we want to eat. The existing restaurants may need to evolve in order to compete. If you think your business is providing great food and great service at a great price you really have nothing to be afraid of, right?
As I said, look for the crossover in Patch over the coming weeks. If you have feedback or response please comment below or bring the discussion over to www.facebook.com/CVLegends Thank you for your time. Good day.