Locals Like New Food Truck Festival, Restaurateurs Not So Sure

Customers wait in line for a food truck. Photo Joey Zanotti / Flickr Creative Commons.

HILLHURST AVENUE—A new food truck festival is happening on the corner of Hillhurst and Ambrose avenues each Saturday afternoon and Wednesday evening through March 21st in the parking lot of the closed Palace restaurant.

According to Rafik Ghazarian, president of the Los Feliz Village Business Improvement District (LFVBID) one restaurant owner on Hillhurst Avenue complained to the LFVBID that the food event is siphoning away its customers.

Ghazarian said he wasn’t aware of the festival until it began January 6th, but that the food trucks have the necessary city licenses and are legally allowed to operate in the privately owned parking lot.

“How can we tell a private business owner what he can or can’t do on his property?” he said.

The property, at 2100 Hillhurst Ave., is owned by Robert Ng, according to public records.

The festival is made up of over 10 trucks offering a variety of food including cheeseburgers, lobster rolls, Greek Gyros and North African cuisine. The event organizer, Street Trucker, also puts on a food truck event Tuesday evenings on in West Los Angeles.

The ongoing food event has received mixed reactions from some local restaurant owners, although none would speak negatively about it on record.

One said he wasn’t happy about it, though he said he didn’t think it was hurting his business. Another was irked the festival has outdoor seating in the parking lot, while his brick and mortar restaurant had to pay for a license for such.

Others, meanwhile, said they were happy the festival was bringing new foot traffic to the neighborhood.

“The food trucks don’t bother me,” said Mexico City owner Albert Solis. “It might hurt my business a little here and there. But it might bring in people from another neighborhood like Silver Lake or Echo Park, who come for the trucks but say, ‘Hey, we can go get a cocktail across the street.’”

Organizer Philip Dane agreed that the food trucks would benefit other restaurants.

“If anything, [food trucks] help bring people into other businesses,” he said. “If you think [the festival] is hurting your business, then you need to take a look at your own menu.”

On a recent Saturday, Rebekah Rejniak and Matt Davis stopped for a breakfast burrito from the festival while on a walk through the neighborhood. They recently moved to Los Feliz, said Rejniak—she from Silver Lake and he from Venice—and said they planned to return to the festival soon.

“This is kind of nice,” said Davis. “We’ll probably incorporate it into our dog walking routine.”

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