Food & Drink Jan 7, 2015 at 4:00 am

The Downside of Eating at the Food Trucks in South Lake Union


And then there are all the food truck patrons who forget that the line they're standing in is actually a PUBLIC SIDEWALK! Get out of the way, people, and let the throughway through.
Trust me, the SLU restaurants are not struggling because of the trucks. You can't even get a table at most of them if you want to eat between 11:45 and 2pm. It's fucking crazy down there at lunch.
There aren't enough retail spaces in SLU to handle the demand because of the poor design of the buildings there. And the only kinds of places that can afford to rent there are chains. but then, so are most of the trucks.
Trucks don't steal from sit down restaurants the way fast-food doesn't steal form restaurants. They are different options for different needs. Sometimes you don't want to sit at a table for lunch. Other times you want to take someone out for a nice sit down. It's all a part of the mix.
The Stranger: Envious of Portland's food trucks until we got a few of our own, then suddenly it's "oh, think of the poor restaurants!"
In this article, Paul Constant criticizes food trucks for being food trucks. Why am I not surprised?

It may interest you to know, Mr. Constant, that most people who eat lunch at the SLU food trucks don't sit on the sidewalk "among the pigeons and effluvia", as you so dismissively put it. They go back to their offices and their break rooms, because they are at work down there and want quick food. Some of these offices and break rooms even have tables, chairs, and fucking roofs! You'd love them.

And the idea that trucks are "stealing" business from brick-and-mortar restaurants is preposterous. That business doesn't belong to the restaurants in the first place; it belongs to whoever can earn it. As you pointed out, there are plenty of ways restaurants can compete with food trucks; they can offer larger menus, a more comfortable dining experience, etc. Food trucks can compete by being quick and mobile and having low overhead. There is nothing unfair about this.
Seriously, have any of you been to SLU? First, there are a LOT of restaurants, and you can barely get into most of them at lunch. And while some are outlets of small local chains there are very few national chains.

How about Lunchbox Laboratory, Paddy Coyne's, Serious Pie, Blue Moon Burgers, Cactus, Brave Horse Tavern, Mad Pizza, Nollie's Kitchen, Yellow Dot Cafe, Shanik, Berliner Donner Kebab, Great Northwest Soups, Portage Bay, Pam's Kitchen, Homegrown sandwiches, Row House Cafe, Mio Sushi, Kigo Kitchen...
@5: Paul only hates them because they're around the Amazon campus. Put them with the 3-block radius and he'd be singing their praises.
If you want to eat at a place with a roof and real silverware, then why are you eating at food truck?!?!

What's next, complaining that bookmobiles don't have places inside to sit and read after you've checked out a book?
Jesus give it a rest. We get it. You hate Amazon.

Paul, you might want to stop and think that if you chase this white whale with a large enough dash of crazy -- say for example, writing a hit piece about food trucks because they're near an Amazon development -- it might possibly could come to pass that a few people will start to take you just a teensy weensy bit less seriously. Because of the batshit crazy hate that drives every word you write about Amazon. And if everyone thinks you're batshit crazy obsessed with hating Amazon, then not quite so many readers will pay attention when you have something important to say about Amazon.
Shout out to (the unfortunately named) NaanSense truck, which is literally the only thing that keeps me from jumping in front of the SLUT every Monday at lunch.
On one hand, I abhor food trucks. They take parking spaces away, they use public land for private enterprise, they often lack such basic hygiene supplies as hot running water, and they're often used by another restaurant or chain to drive honest competition out of the market. There is no reason any city should desire their existence anywhere within the city limits.

That last part is the most interesting from this article's point of view. This article doesn't attack food trucks based on their low quality, lack of value, and high neighborhood impact. Instead, Constant attacks food trucks based solely on one regional location. Food trucks are a much bigger problem downtown than they are in SLU. So why single out SLU?

Of course, 8 and 10 have the right idea. Constant's mad-on diatribe against Amazon directly has diminished him and The Stranger. Now he's trying the indirect method by attacking Amazon's neighborhood, hoping in vain to get some traction for his wacked out ideology.
He hates Amazon, he hates the tunnel, he hates new stadiums, he hates apartments over 300 square feet. Basically anything moving Seattle into the future he hates. I've never seen a "progressive" less into progress of any kind than Paul "appropriately named" Constant. Move to fucking Portland if you want time to be frozen 20 years ago.
What's funny to me is that food trucks don't seem to be very competitive compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants. El Camion is a screaming deal for what you get, but it seems like many food trucks are outrageously expensive.
Let's post photos of food truck patrons blocking sidewalks! Someone call 911 on those troglodytes!
I have always said this (or, grumbled it to myself) about food trucks. I don't care how artisan gourmet delicious your food is, I don't want to eat it standing on the street, and if I walk it back home/to the office, it's cold. So, fuck food trucks.
Obvious exceptions:
- music festivals
- other outdoor events where there's a decent place to sit and eat

...this opinion was cemented a few weeks ago when I saw an mom and 3 young kids SITTING ON THE PIGEON SHIT-CRUSTED GROUND downtown at 2nd and Pike, to eat their food truck sandwiches. Bleh.
It's just no way to live.
Hahaha, all this after the Slog spent the first decade of its existence trumpeting the need for food trucks hither and yon.

And though I'm grateful for the food truck explosion, like kesh said, for the most part I've found them to be enormously expensive for what you get.
Lunchbox Laboratory (chain)
Paddy Coyne's (chain)
Serious Pie (chain)
Blue Moon Burgers (chain)
Cactus (chain)
Brave Horse Tavern (chain)
Mad Pizza (chain)
Nollie's Kitchen (NOT A CHAIN!)
Yellow Dot Cafe (chain)
Shanik (chain, sort of -- sister to Vij in Van)
Berliner Donner Kebab (chain)
Great Northwest Soups (chain)
Portage Bay (chain)
Pam's Kitchen (chain)
Homegrown sandwiches (chain)
Row House Cafe (NOT A CHAIN!)
Mio Sushi (chain)
Kigo Kitchen (chain)

So, yeah. Two of eighteen are not chains.

SLU is a mall without a roof. Corporate, branded, market-researched, and designed to within an incho of its life. It's less real than U Village, to be honest. Having trouble getting a seat for lunch amongst 10,000 other twenty-something tech drones is not a real urban experience, or not a very pleasant one at least. Visit on a Sunday and it's less lively than downtown Woodinville.
@18 What disingenous bullshit. If a restaurant has more than one location it's a chain? If it's the only one of its kind (Brave Horse) but it's owned by the same owner it's a chain? Shanik is a chain because there's a different restaurant in a different fucking country with the same owner?

By your definition just about every popular restaurant in Seattle is part of a chain, since they're owned by Tom Douglas or Ethan Stowell or Maria Hines or Renee Erickson or Matt Dillon or...need I go on? That's not anyone's definition of a chain, and you know it.
I personally always take my food truck food back to my office break room where I have chairs and tables and my coworkers all eat together. Way better than having to kill 30 minutes or more to get a table somewhere.

You know you are grasping at straws when your criticism is that it's not a real whatever. A real "urban experience." Is an "urban experience" even an actual thing? Or just shorthand for "get off my lawn"?

I cried because I had nowhere to eat lunch, except Lunchbox Laboratory, Paddy Coyne's, Serious Pie, Blue Moon Burgers, Cactus,... To think I took linear algebra for this!
@19, it's my definition of a chain. In Seattle, it's just another example of "oh, look, they have a logo, good, I know I'll be amongst my own kind here". Focus-group tested. That's not anything to do with me; it's just what Seattle has become. This town is impossible for poor or immigrant or struggling people to break into. Even the food trucks, for cryin' out loud -- a Taco Time food truck? Something like that calls the whole urban project into question. The lamest red state shithole would be embarrassed to see that.
@22, a real urban experience is one that takes place in the free civic marketplace, not a stage-managed simulacrum of one. SLU is more tightly designed and regulated than Bellevue Square. It's Disneyland's Main Street, not a real city; it's designed to stimulate responses based on urban cues placed there by social scientists, not people.
I kind of feel like fnarf has to be trolling on this stuff. Nearly every restaurant on that list is owned locally and only has 1 or 2 locations at worst. I don't really think chain until there's franchising involved and I can find it in the middle of TN.
BTW, I've been in Paddy Coyne's a couple of times, and it is unspeakably vile. The ridiculous "Irish" theme, out of a kit, is bad enough, though expected, but you're never more than four feet away from a giant window, which is exactly the opposite of how a real bar is supposed to be. And it shows; it has the ambiance of a food court.

This is because of the terrible building design that fills 90% of the ground floor with parking or building mechanicals and pushes the vaunted "ground floor retail" to a thin strip along the outer edge.

Shanik is a nice space considering what they have to work with but it suffers from the same problem.

SLU is not just soulless but specifically designed to prevent soul from occurring. Notice that the one flag they wave, "we have lots of relatively upscale places to eat lunch!", is pathetically wan and thin compared to real city districts. Other than eateries for techies who don't know any better, there's nothing there.
Fnarf - sounds like Joes in the ID might be the place for you.
Fnarf - I disagree with your stupid opinions.
@27, Joe's is not my kind of joint -- I have teeth -- but a city worth living in has room for Joe's. Funny you should mention the ID; it's one of the last parts of the city that hasn't been sanitized for your protection. Not yet at least. The kind of independence you'll find there is not welcome in the Tech Utopia. The other places are out on the fringes -- up Aurora, down Rainier, in outskirts like Burien.

Even the hipster variety of independence isn't really welcome in SLU -- the tiny breweries you find in Ballard, for instance. It's too valuable.

The people defending it, and the WAY they're defending it, just goes to make my point. It's a monoculture.

I mostly agree with you, but Pam's is amazing, and I'll defend it to the death.
Just because it's locally owned and only has a handful of outlets, doesn't mean it's not a chain (cit ref Dick's).

And frankly, based on the descriptions, both in the article and accompanying comments, the whole thing sounds like a tech campus cross between an upscale shopping mall food court and a college dining hall - absolutely the worst possible combination for an eating experience I can possibly imagine.

Yeah, yeah. It's what they were saying in 2600 BC in Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan. "Let's blow this stage-managed fake city. I want a real urban experience, not this Disneyland planned city bullshit!"

I'm personally not a big fan of U Village or SLU but I'm pretty sure that kind of place is just a legitimate a part of a city as the hipster colonies. Not every neighborhood needs to be a clone of Capitol Hill circa whatever decade people in your age bracket think it was cool, 70s, 80s, 90s... The only thing that's really anti-urban is rejecting variety.
This article is a blog post disguised as a restaurant review. Why is Paul - the book critic - now the restaurant critic? That doesn't make sense. The Stranger needs to hire someone that knows about food and knows about restaurants - to be their restaurant critic. This article, with key phrases in bold, is just poorly written dreck.
Much like Mr. Constant criticized food trucks for being food trucks, in this thread Fnarf criticizes a recently-constructed office campus for being a recently-constructed office campus. You are the only one who seems to think the people who built it were trying to make it have all this character, and that they have consequently failed so grandly. Normally I find your opinions fairly interesting, but you are really beating up a straw man here.
@Farnf, by your logic Paseo's was a "chain restaurant". LunchBox started in Ballard then moved to Southlake Union, and then opened up two other locations...

Both Blue Moon and Mad Pizza where in South Lake Union before Amazon moved in.

And if Shanik is a chain then so is every restaurant up on the Hill that shares an owner with another restaurant. I guess Linda's is a chain.

All this complaining over the "Character" of SLU is really stupid. Seattle had a chance to make SLU something amazing in the 90's and the people voted it down, with The Stranger leading the charge. SLU wasn't going to stay full of empty warehouses forever.

I swear Paul goes to SLU for the reason I read Paul's articles about SLU, to get all riled up. Paul had some really good articles a couple years ago, but now it's came down to "I hate food trunks" and "I hate bowler hats"...
Also to the argument that food trunks are bad for resturants, take it away Cienna:

"the activity draws pedestrians to the area and ultimately increases business for everyone—not hurts it."…

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