LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Food trucks make it so easy to buy tasty meals by rolling up to you right at the curb. But, with as many as 50 metro area trucks competing for business, finding a lucrative place to park and ring the dinner bell can be difficult.
Some Louisville food truck owners have complained about a restriction imposed by the city, prohibiting a food truck from operating within 150 feet of a restaurant with a similar menu.
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The Institute for Justice is filing a federal lawsuit aimed at declaring the city's imposed buffer zone as unconstitutional. The IJ described itself as "the National Law Firm for Liberty," that "litigates to limit the size and scope of government power."
An IJ background publication on the case against the city stated, "large swaths of Louisville have become no-vending zones, where food trucks are effectively banned - even on private property…" The publication also stated, "the government cannot use its power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace."
Josh Abner, Communications Director for the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, said the office could not comment because they had not seen the filing and had not yet been served.
The suit will be announced Wednesday morning as the IJ files on behalf of two Louisville food truck owners, Troy King and Robert Martin, who said they were cited or threatened with towing for violating the 150-foot rule. When contacted by WAVE 3 News, Troy King declined comment, and Robert Martin did not respond to calls.
Some downtown restaurant owners said the buffer zone is necessary to avoid unfair competition. Food trucks can easily undercut brick and mortar restaurants that often pay a premium for desirable space, and higher personnel and operating costs.
Matthew Saltzman, owner of Fire Fresh Barbeque, claimed a single food truck nearby could cost him a hundred customers a week.
"That small amount of customers, even at that low level, makes the difference between a successful business here and a failing business," Saltzman said.