UTAH (ABC4) – Food trucks have been popping up nationally throughout urban areas of the country. However, one has to wonder how these restaurants-on-wheels affect sit-down eateries. 

To better understand the circumstances, it’s important to emphasize the bill Utah lawmakers passed back in 2017 as an attempt to make it easier to open a food truck. Unfortunately, local governments have found additional ways to put roadblocks in the way of food truck operators. 

A new bill, House Bill 146, proposed by Representative Karianne Lisonbee, could make it easier to manage a food truck by replacing Utah’s mandate of obtaining multiple local licenses with the requirement that local governments acknowledge a single local license statewide. 

A new study carried out by the Institute for Justice (IJ), which compiled 12 years of census data on food trucks and restaurants, found that the restaurant industry has nothing to fear in terms of food truck expansion in Utah. In fact, food trucks and restaurants have proven to grow together. 

“The results of this study provide strong evidence that restaurants have nothing to fear when it comes to food trucks,” said IJ Senior Director of Strategic Research Dr. Dick Carpenter, a co-author of the report. “Far from threatening to put restaurants out of business, food trucks can coexist with restaurants and may even help the restaurant industry grow.”

Throughout the study, which took place from 2005 to 2016, the number of restaurants and the number of food trucks per county grew, despite the number of restaurants still vastly exceeding the number of food trucks. The average number of restaurants per county grew from 133 to 157, while the average number of food trucks per county grew from just 1 to 2. 

The study additionally found a positive correlation between food trucks and restaurants, implying that the development of the food truck industry promotes the expansion of the restaurant industry. 

If passed, Lisonbee’s bill would take steps towards putting an end to the oppressive food truck regulations that are currently in place in the state of Utah. 

“Cities should repeal restrictions designed to protect restaurants from food truck competition, leaving in place only legitimate health and safety regulations, and states should prevent cities from placing protectionist restrictions on food trucks in the first place,” said IJ Researcher Kyle Sweetland, the report’s other co-author. “These reforms would right the injustice as well as promote consumer choice and a more vibrant local food scene.”