A handful of food truck operators used to meet in the back of Duffy’s Irish Pub on Monday nights, discussing their common struggles over the din of football. But as the industry boomed and regulatory threats became more potent, the group has gotten more organized. Today, the D.C. Food Truck Association is a 501(c)(6) trade association with more than 50 dues-paying members and a registered lobbyist. Next year, the organization will hire a full-time executive director and officially rebrand itself as the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, tackling mobile vending issues both within and beyond the District proper. The food truck lobby has even joined the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which supported a moratorium on food trucks two years ago.
Food truckers want a voice among larger, better-funded business interests that have occasionally opposed what mobile vendors prefer. Regulations the Gray administration proposed in October could restrict trucks from vending in areas with fewer than 10 feet of “unobstructed” sidewalk. Counting lamp poles and tree boxes as obstructions, eight of D.C.’s 10 most popular food truck locations would be off-limits. If the final rules wind up shifting more in the food trucks’ favor, it’ll be a sign that getting serious about lobbying helped.