16 min

Toledo can screw up lunch with politics

My Jun 27, 2014 comment to this thread:

I wonder if Toledo, Ohio is the only city that can make eating lunch downtown politically complex.

Excerpts from a Jun 27, 2014 Ottawa Tavern Facebook post

The mantra of all entrepreneurs must be "Competition will make me better!" Once you stop believing and following this one simple rule, you are bound for the heap of businesses that failed to get better through innovation, superior customer service, and quality products at a fair price.

... this type of legislation is a knee jerk reaction to something that needs no legislation. the market ALWAYS sorts itself out PERIOD!

The above post shared this humorous post. I doubt city government is aware enough to realize that the "youngsters" are making fun of them and their business buddies.


BREAKING NEWS: City of Toledo moves to enact ban on Keeping it Real. -- In a city known for it's progressive stance on non-progression, leading the way in falling behind, and saying "yes" to "NO!," Toledo, Ohio has issued a warning to anyone in the city limits attempting to keep it real. Punishments may include fines, complacency, and/or relocation.

"We can't just have everyone going around keeping it real all the time. How real is too real? Someone might get hurt. They might break a rule, and worse, they could create forward motion. We don't want that," a spokesperson for the Mayor's office said, wishing to remain anonymous. "Toledo has built a reputation for declining population, loss of buildings, and an incredible sense of cultural stasis. We need to protect that," the spokesperson continued.

In a city that has been in economic and cultural free fall for decades, Adam Sattler, a local Keep It Realer, says keeping it real is a tough pill for Toledo to swallow, mostly because it's not Ambian or Qualudes. "You haven't even been able to get Ludes here in decades," Sattler said. "They want us to stop keeping it so real, but to be honest, I'm not even sure what the other options are. I look around to the cities where nearly every person I have ever met or grew up with has moved to and everyone there is keeping it so real. I don't know, it looks fun. So I thought, 'Why not here?'" Sattler said.

The controversial new legislation is largely being driven by the local business community who is leading a movement through an unconventional business style of trying to build something out of nothing and keeping it that way. One business owner, who also wished to remain anonymous had this to say: "if people start coming in, if we start getting customers, we're just going to have to start ordering supplies and keeping books and hiring people. Who wants to deal with all that?!"

With a tug of war on both sides, it's hard to tell how real this Keep It Real battle might get. The matter will be brought to the floor in a Toledo City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 1 at 1pm.

When asked for comment on the lesser known but growing Keep it Trill movement, the Mayoral rep became visibly ill and muttered "oh god" before passing out.

It doesn't take long for the new Toledo mayor to become the latest buffoon cartoon character.

It's just lunch. If Toledo cannot handle eating lunch well, how can the city accomplish anything more difficult?

Toledo Politics and Food Trucks in Downtown

According to the wording, the new rules only apply to downtown.

Excerpts from the proposed ordinance. - pdf file

ORD. ____-14

Enacting a new Toledo Municipal Code Chapter 746, “Mobile Food Vendors- Downtown”.

Summary and Background:

A proliferation of on-street mobile food vendors has necessitated the adoption of provision to the Municipal Code to insure fair, safe and orderly regulations. A new Chapter 746 will enact needed regulations of this activity.

Twelve (12) designated zones within Downtown Toledo will allow for mobile food vending operations. These zones are detailed below.

A mobile food vendor may apply for revocable street privileges that run for a twelve-months. The annual fee shall be $1,000.00. Payment is required prior to issuance of the revocable street privilege.

The city may issue no more than twenty (20) revocable street privileges for mobile food vending per year.

Whoever violates any provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. Each day that any person engages in selling any goods without the proper permit/privilege, as provided in this chapter, shall constitute a separate offense.

The seven-page document contains detailed information on the definition of mobile food vendors, time and locations where the vendors can operate, the application process, and a long list of other rules.

Some links for a few of the food trucks:

Rosie's Rolling Chef

Grumpy's on the Go

The Displaced Chef Mobile Cuisine

Wanderlust Sandwich Co. Food Truck - (Ottawa Tavern's truck)

Nov 12, 2013 - Toledo Blade - Food trucks provide moving downtown dining experience - "Some local restaurants savor results from fast-growing trend"

"Lisa Deeter, co-owner of Deet’s BBQ, center, takes orders from hungry customers in the company’s food truck in downtown Toledo."

It took awhile, but the food-truck phenomenon that has been blossoming in Ohio’s largest cities and other metro areas across the United States finally has motored its way to downtown Toledo.

For now, it’s limited to two or three trucks and a tent on St. Clair Street adjacent to Levis Square. They are there on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

But those involved in the mobile dining experiment are hoping to keep it going through the winter and possibly see it blossom next spring to give downtown workers and visitors some tasty cuisine while out for a noontime stroll in Toledo.

“What we’ve done is we’ve sold parking meters [along St. Clair Street] to whoever wanted to come down. Rosie’s did it, and then Bueno Vida, and then Deet’s,” said Bill Thomas, head of the Downtown Toledo Improvement District, a special assessment district created by downtown property owners to provide benefits within a defined 38-block area.

Bill Wersell, vice president of business development services for the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, which is helping the food-truck operators, said he was surprised the idea hadn’t been tried before.

“Food trucks are the fastest growing segment in the food-service industry as a whole," said Brian Reed, president of the fledgling Central Ohio Food Truck Association.

“We have areas in Columbus where restaurants can’t really make it, but food trucks are a perfect fit for the lunch crowd. And the technology has evolved as to what you can do on a truck,” Mr. Reed said.

Here's the part that Collins apparently wants to regulate.

Creating synergy

On a Tuesday last month, [Mayor Bell] stopped by to see the trucks at lunchtime and talk to customers about what they thought.

“We’ve been working on this for a while, but it’s great now that it’s happening,” Mr. Bell said. “A guy just walked past me and said, ‘I feel like I’m in Chicago!’ This is definitely something that hasn’t been done before here.

“I’m just enjoying the synergy this creates. We’re trying to invigorate Toledo,” the mayor added.

Downtown workers like the idea too.

“This is cool. It’s just nice to see something different downtown,” said Barb Nichols, a downtown worker who ordered food from Mr. Hodge’s Bueno Vida food truck.

“I just like it — period,” said Elaine Szilagye, Ms. Nichols’ co-worker. “It’s nice to get out of the office.”

“People are loving it,” Bob Deeter said.

The complaints:

However, not everyone is thrilled with the arrival of the food-truck experience.

Mr. Thomas of the downtown improvement district said he has fielded some complaints from downtown restaurants unhappy about the arrival of mobile competition.

A downtown ordinance says food trucks cannot operate within 100 feet of a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, and the location keeps them in compliance.

Mr. Thomas said once improvements to Promenade Park along the river are completed, the plan is to move the food truck vendors to Summit Street next spring.

“But I do think the food trucks have gotten some people out who wouldn’t have been out anyway. So, to some degree you can say the more the merrier, and you’re creating a lot of interest in the downtown,” Mr. Thomas said.

Let's not have fun in downtown Toledo

Apparently, one side consists of:

  • Food truck vendors
  • Downtown Toledo Improvement District
  • Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Mayor Mike Bell

And apparently, the other side consists of:

  • ICE
  • Foccacias
  • Mud Hens
  • Current Mayor Mike Collins

Crazy question: Did both sides ever meet together to discuss their concerns and to create an agreeable solution?

I'm guessing not, based upon this morning's Ottawa Tavern Facebook posting which said:

... this type of legislation is a knee jerk reaction to something that needs no legislation.

If no gathering occurred, then the Collins administration is being embarrassingly one-sided and narrow-minded on this issue.

Mayor Collins is proposing new regulations because of this :

  • it’s great
  • I feel like I’m in Chicago!
  • People are very excited.
  • enjoying the synergy
  • We’re trying to invigorate Toledo
  • Downtown workers like the idea too.
  • This is cool.
  • It’s nice to see something different downtown.
  • I just like it — period.
  • People are loving it.

Yeah, that sounds like a lot of lawlessness. We need new regulations because some vendors and many downtown employees and visitors are enjoying themselves too much.

As mentioned earlier in this thread, the food truck vendors already have to comply with numerous laws and regulations.

I could understand new regulations if the food truck vendors were destroying property or causing mass littering, but I think we already have laws against those activities.

What destructive behavior are the food truck vendors engaging in that requires Mayor Collins to propose new regulations? Lunch food competition? Is that what Collins defines as destructive behavior?

Or is this all politics? Maybe some people donated money to some campaign last fall, and now it's time to return the favor. I imply nothing.

Jan 3, 2014 Toledo Blade story

D. Michael Collins officially became Toledo’s mayor on Thursday with the promise to revive a century-old adage: “You will do better in Toledo.”

The 2014 version:

"You will do better in Toledo if you are politically connected."


New contribution:

makeit=it hard for people to have fun

Tt June 30 2014 comment

Did the paper mention the classless, archaic way that Collins has handled this?

I heard that at least one of the food truck vendors learned about the new proposed regulations through his customers. The patrons knew before the business owner.

If true, were all the vendors blindsided by the new regs idea?

If so, that's offensive. It shows a serious lack of respect by Collins toward creative business people.

I would expect this behavior from dinosaur thinkers like Finkbeiner and Ford.

For mayor Collins as of June 2014, Robert Reinbolt is the mayor’s chief of staff. Reinbolt served as chief of staff under Czarty.

Maybe Reinbolt had nothing to do with this food truck issue, but I don't understand why a mayor in 2014 would retain relics from the dark ages who could poison Toledo's business and political environments.

It's possible that the proposed regs have merit, but Collins handled this without tact.

I know that it's "just" lunch from food truck vendors, but at some point, Toledo city government needs to stop playing bully politics. The Collins administration needs sensitivity training.

This has been another shiny example of the destructive Toledo government attitude that has plagued Toledo for many years.

Why was it so hard for the Collins Gang to act in a decent, humane way and initiate an intelligent, adult conversation with all concerned parties, instead of acting like the mayors from the Stone Age?

TT comment Jun 30, 2014 - second one

From the June 30, 2014 Blade story

Mr. Mazur said the ordinance would put Toledo in line with Ohio’s other large cities in regulation of mobile food vendors.

It's annoying when government and the media play the "Other Cities" card. The Blade writer failed to report whether the mayors in those other cities bullied their food truck vendors like mayor Collins.

Anti-bullying campaigns exist for schools and the Internet. We need an anti-bullying campaign directed at Toledo government.

More from the Blade story:

Ed Becyznski, the owner of Blarney Irish Pub and Focaccia’‍s Deli in the HCR ManorCare building, said he supports having vendors on the street, but wants it limited to one day a week because of the economic impact they have on the eateries.

“I am not against them. I think it is good to have variety. But we have to make it work for everybody,” he said. “When you sit at the same spot every day, instead of moving around, you are affecting the same places.”

In my opinion, the obvious question that Becyznski should ask is:

"Why are some customers choosing a food truck over a restaurant?"

More from the Blade story:

Councilman Michael Craig agreed that a level playing field is needed to balance the concerns of the “fixed-base” restaurants and the growing mobile food business.

While both are important to downtown revitalization, Mr. Craig said restaurants have to balance fixed costs and slow periods during the winter that make the booming summer months important to their profit margins.

“The legislation is designed to make the vendors move around so they are not preying on a certain restaurant,” he said. “You have to level the playing field and spread this around. I am not totally against the mobile vendors, but we have to make it work for everybody.”

Both Becyznski and Craig used the phrase, "make it work for everybody." That phrase is a red flag.

Our preferences for many things have changed over time due to technology or what we think is convenient.

Maybe our lunch-time eating preferences are changing, and the food trucks satisfy a demand. That's business. That's life. Old phrase: Innovate or die.

But for Toledo: If you cannot innovate, whine to government for help.

I'm surprised Toledo government never tried to legislate against Craigslist for siphoning off classified ad dollars from newspapers.

The Blarney must be on life-support if food trucks are a problem.

Excerpts from some Facebook comments posted to the June 30, 2014 Blade story, which express similar thoughts, posted elsewhere in this thread:

  • "If you own a brick and mortar restaurant, and you fear competition from a food truck, you're in the wrong business."
  • "Maybe the brick and motar need to up their games."
  • "The playing field is already level, if you put out good food at a good value people will choose your restaurant or mobile kitchen."
  • "Competition is a good thing, if you're worried about food trucks hurting your business, then perhaps you should step up your game and offer something better."
  • "Mayor Collins just proves how recklessly reactionary he is."
  • "Its NOT the Mayor or Council's job to "level the playing field." "
  • "Competition gives the consumer more choices and also eliminates inferior products in the market place!"
  • "These measures are hardly leveling the playing field, but rather placing additional burdens on the vendors, and taking choices away from the people."

Tt comment June 30 2014 third

"I really hope the blade & others do more research on this. Napoli and Ball need to be grilled a little more on their involvement in getting Collins to push this legislation forward and Collins needs to admit why he brought it forward in the first place."

That sounds like real journalism, following the money trail, if one exists, to see what influence it buys, if any.

Yeah, I'll keep hoping too for some investigation, but I'm sure a dog needs adopting, or the new fall fashion trends need to be announced.

Napoli has the Blade in his back pocket.


Naturally, many people were jazzed about that proposed project. But some people had questions and a little confusion. The Blade editorial board, however, praised the project. That's why I don't expect any journalism from the paper about the food truck flap.


Unlike most professional sports teams, the Toledo Mud Hens and Fifth Third Field are actually owned by the citizens of Lucas County.

I know the citizens own the stadium, but I don't know about the team.

A couple of concerns from last summer about the proposed coot project:

  • "I am in favor of renovating those buildings, but not at the expense of the taxpayer and businesses who sank a lot of money into their operations. The Mudhens and Lucas County have deep pockets and can out-compete any private restaurant owner."
  • "I agree with Pete that I don't really want my tax dollars going to more restaurants downtown. That's the big issue I have with government getting involved in projects like this."

All this shit needs a colonoscopy but it ain't gonna happen.

I'm guessing that big money buys preferential treatment from the hacks in government and the media. That's what happens on TV shows and in the movies.

#toledo - #food - #business - #politics - #moronism - #blog_jr

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