Burlingame business owners who say that an Indian food truck that rolled into downtown is taking away their business may be the only ones complaining, as a city survey reveals that residents like the new vendor.
Curry Up Now, the food truck operation, currently stops for business at several locations on the Peninsula. In the fall, the truck began parking at the corner of Howard Street and El Camino Real in Burlingame at lunchtime on the weekends, according to owner Akash Kapoor.
“Street food” — from taco trucks to hot dog carts, but also more creative and upscale fare in some instances — has become popular in urban areas nationwide. This summer, festivals celebrating street food were held in San Francisco and Oakland.
In Burlingame, restaurant owners have objected to the presence of the food truck, City Manager Jim Nantell said. In response, city officials set out to survey residents last week to see if they thought mobile food vendors hurt or benefited the city.
Burlingame does not currently have regulations on locations or hours for food vendor trucks, although the trucks must meet health guidelines and carry permits, Nantell said.
Curry Up Now owners said they have a business license from San Mateo County and permits in Burlingame, San Mateo and Redwood City.
According to a survey sent to nearly 5,000 residents of Burlingame through its e-mail newsletter, 72 percent of the approximately 500 people who responded to date said they knew of the truck and 39 percent of those people had purchased food there, according to Nantell. Additionally, 51 percent of respondents said they felt the truck’s presence supported commercial areas, while 27 percent said it negatively impacted local businesses.
The city also sent a survey by mail to approximately 100 community members, chosen at random and living in different parts of the city. Of those respondents, 27 percent said they thought the truck benefited the commercial area, while 18 percent said it could hurt other businesses.
Nantell said he will share these results with the City Council and see if they want to pursue an ordinance of any kind.
“The results are very mixed,” Nantell said. “People like it and feel it provides a quick and affordable food option, but some feel it’s problematic for traffic.”
Kapoor said the truck is in Burlingame for limited hours and doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.
“I try not to associate with that,” he said of the controversy. “We’ve offered to meet with businesses, but haven’t gotten any response.”
Madhavi Cheruvu, a Curry Up Now customer purchasing food at the truck’s Redwood City stop, said she does not understand the objection to the food truck.
“Maybe they’re threatened by the good food,” she said.
Kapoor said he and his wife plan on getting another truck so they can start operating in San Francisco by the end of the month. The couple plan to park on Bush Street, somewhere in the Financial District and are also searching for a second spot in the South of Market area, he said.
An overall positive reception
In response to a Indian food truck that began doing business in downtown Burlingame, city officials sent out a survey last week by e-mail and mail to see if residents thought positively or negatively about the vendor.
Survey results from an e-mail sent to 5,000 residents with an approximate
10 percent response rate:
72 percent knew about the food vending truck
39 percent purchased food from the truck
51 percent said it benefited the commercial area
27 percent said it hurt local businesses
Survey results from a mail survey sent to 100 random residents with nearly all responding:
39 percent knew about Curry Up Now
7 percent purchased food from the business
27 percent said it benefited the commercial area
18 percent said it hurt local businesses
Source: City of Burlingame