I have nothing against food trucks, mobile vendors or whatever else you might want to call them.
Actually, I think they're kind of neat.
I've eaten from them on numerous occasions. Not just in York, but in New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore, too. It's quick, usually less expensive and perfect when you don't have time to sit down to eat or you enjoy chowing down while on the move.
The street vendor food often, though not always, is as good as or better than what I might find in brick-and-mortar restaurants scattered throughout downtown York.
And the mobile menu frequently offers food items you won't find in a standard restaurant. It's often more ethnic, for example, or out of the ordinary. Yes, you'll probably find the standard hot dog items, but there'll often be crepes, pork barbecue, spring rolls, cheese steaks, wraps, gyros, tacos, sliders and about as much variety as one might want in pastries and desserts.
Honestly, I'm not usually someone who experiments much with food. I know what I like, and I tend to stick with it. No surprises, thank you.
But if you enjoy experimenting, food trucks can offer a nice change of pace.
Anyway, I was pleased to read earlier this week about a food truck rally called "Foodstruck" that will be held from 5 to 9 p.m.
This is a huge deal, by the way, because York City has an ordinance that prohibits food trucks from operating within city confines except during special events.
So this doesn't happen every day in York City. Or every week. Or every month, even.
For exactly that reason, I'm thinking it might be a huge success, with as many as eight or 10 food trucks on site.
I'm all in favor of honest-to-goodness competition among food providers.
So I'd have no objections at all to mobile vendors or food trucks setting up shop in downtown York.
If -- and this is a huge if -- it doesn't create an unlevel playing field for restaurants that have to pay for utilities, mortgage/rent, taxes and other overhead that doesn't apply to food trucks.
Because that's just not fair. Profit margins for restaurants are thin enough as it is.
I can tell you this much, if I owned a restaurant -- say the Left Bank on North George Street -- I'd be furious if I had to pay taxes, make mortgage and utility payments and pay the various licensing and permit fees required by the city, only to have someone pull a truck up in front of my business and start selling food out of it.
Philip Given, a local photographer and co-organizer of Foodstruck, doesn't agree. He thinks the city's ordinance is "a cloud hanging over people that want to see street food downtown."
And he sees Foodstruck as a way to "spur a conversation about food trucks downtown."
He's not the only one who feels this way.
But he's not an owner of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, either.
York City Councilman Mike Helfrich understands where restaurant owners in York City are coming from when they cry foul at the notion of trying to compete with mobile food vendors.
Many of the restaurants anchoring downtown York are "barely holding on," Helfrich said earlier this week.
And he's not interested in doing anything that's going to put brick-and-mortar restaurants out of business when they've invested so much money and effort in their operations.
Helfrich says he's willing to talk about bringing street vendors and mobile food trucks into downtown York, but only if they compete with regular restaurants on a level playing field.
In the past, that hasn't happened.
Having mobile food trucks on hand even during special events -- the Halloween Parade, for example, or the street fair -- has discouraged some brick-and-mortar restaurants from opening their businesses on those days because they claim they lose money.
What it comes down to is the mobile vendors can't have their cake and eat it, too. They can't set up operation in front of or across the street from brick-and-mortar restaurants and think they're competing fairly.
Because there's nothing fair about it.
But there must be a solution out there somewhere.
Maybe the York City Council can find it.
Because Foodstruck sounds like a terrific idea. Lots of fun. Something you might like to have in downtown York every weekend in the spring, summer and fall seasons.
Sign me up -- can I have a pulled pork sandwich, please?
As long as it doesn't drive regular restaurants out of business altogether.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.