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      City council to step into Toledo's great food truck debate

      T he recent addition of food trucks in downtown Toledo has provoked complaints by restaurant owners, and now the city has stepped in.

      According to food truck vendor Matt Salgado, the first rule in the restaurant business is location. Yet, when a restaurant is on four wheels, location could be anywhere, even right in front of existing restaurants. The city of Toledo, along with downtown eateries, want to change that.

      Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins recently introduced legislation that would restrict the operations of food trucks in downtown. The move would create zones where the trucks can operate and force vendors to apply for permits and insurance that could cost them thousands of dollars.

      Toledo City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposed legislation during Tuesday's council meeting.

      "Brick and mortar restaurants pay property taxes and special assessments, whereas the mobile food vendors do not," said Joel Mazur, Assistant Chief of Staff to Mayor Collins.

      Mazur said food trucks currently have the upper hand, but throw in the ability to park next to a standing restaurant and the competition gets seriously lopsided.

      The Toledo Mudhens and Toledo Walleye are two of the biggest food vendors in the city, according to the teams' president Joe Napoli. He said he is all for food trucks, but their presence could seriously effect profits for restaurants centered around the district's most prime real estate. "No one is slinging arrows," said Napoli. "What we are saying is this is a phenomenon all around the country. How do you balance it appropriately in downtown Toledo?"

      Salgado understands restaurants' need for protecting their business. He said he just wants to make sure he gets his piece of the proverbial pie. "If they want to move us around a little bit, but keep it realistic I think it's fine," said Salgado. "I'm not going to park in front of somebody's restaurant and say 'if you're better than me then let's see.' It's not one of those things."