Stand & Deliver / MIHO Gastrotruck / The Vetted Table

The Adventures of MIHO

Posted by Kevin on 06/23/2010

Well, our first visit to Little Italy didn’t turn out exactly as we had hoped for. Five minutes before we even got set up, a representative of the Little Italy Association came up and informed us that we were not allowed to park anywhere in Little Italy. He recited some debatable municipal codes, and sent us on our way. We moved on down a couple blocks out of Little Italy, and set up shop again. After serving a few lucky customers, a couple parking enforcement officers arrived and notified us that some local business owners had complained that we were blocking a driveway – we obviously weren’t. Anyway, they whipped out their municipal code and began to scrutinize our permits and licenses. By the way, the municipal code is in written word, and anyone familiar with legal documents knows that words can often be interpreted or misinterpreted in a number of ways, depending on context and intent. Long story short, they told us we had to leave. But before they did, they kindly threw in a comment that is really the purpose of this post:

“It’s not fair for you to be here when you don’t pay rent.”

{click below to read more…}

I think this is a common, and somewhat valid, perspective of many local business owners in the areas that we have been visiting. They feel that we have an unfair advantage as direct or indirect competitors. First of all, I’d like to point out that catering trucks have been around for decades, and only recently since trucks have started to serve high quality food have businesses started digging through the out-dated municipal code to find ways to shut us down. Anyway, how do I put this…we do pay rent. More rent than we’d like and more rent than we ever expected getting into this. To legally operate a “mobile food preparation unit,” aka hot food truck, it is required to be parked in an official truck commissary where all the trucks in San Diego must go to discard their waste; purchase propane, electricity, and water; and store their vehicle. We also pay the city for licenses and permits to operate our MFPU. Finally, in order to legally cook and prepare food outside of the MFPU, we pay rent at a fully permitted commercial kitchen. After researching this kind of operation for the good part of 9 months and actually launching it in the last month or so, we personally believe that certain parts of the municipal code are ill-conceived and generally serve no actual benefit to the community. But that argument is definitely a losing battle. The law is the law.

Are you still with me? Now to the part that really concerns us as local San Diegans – born & raised as a matter of fact. The only reason that law enforcement and city officials are spending their time hunting down MIHO is because local businesses are filing complaints. It’s one thing if we really are breaking the law, but it’s another thing if you’re just trying to shut someone down because they’re competing with your business. One of the main motivations behind MIHO is to put San Diego on the map. Our first attempt is obviously with MIHO Gastrotruck. All we want to do is make high quality, world-class street food for our friends and neighbors. As San Diegans, we support ANY individuals or businesses that are offering quality, creativity, and integrity. That’s what we wanted to bring to our city, and we prayed that our city would embrace us for doing so. We’re going to stick to our goals, and we’re going to get this all figured out. We hope that you’re along for the ride. (And in regards to parking in Little Italy, we already figured out a perfect, and most importantly, totally legal solution. Check out next week’s newsletter and schedule to see the details.)

PS. We’re really, really sorry for all those HOMI’s that couldn’t find us in the Little Italy rat race today. The best way to make absolutely sure of our location and times is by following us on Twitter/Facebook on your cell or just checking the feed in the upper left hand corner of the website before you leave your office or your house. Things come up, and we hate to leave you hangin’/hungry.


Juan & Kevin