Harvest and Roe owner Alison Rowe tells SFoodie she's been unfairly depicted as a foe of food trucks, when she's merely one of 20 brick-and-mortar business owners in her immediate neighborhood who have problems with the police Department granting permits to JapaCurry.
"I love food trucks," says Rowe. "I started at the farmers' market with Blue Bottle and Miette. The only thing I disagree on is the location." Rowe says she sold for several months at the Berkeley farmers' market back in 2002, and she says she's a supporter of events like Off the grid. But trucks in Downtown? She thinks they have no business being there, even if the Police Department's permit officer thought otherwise in the case of JapaCurry.
Rowe faults the city for not doing enough research on brick-and-mortars in the area before issuing the permits, especially in a time of flux, before the authority for mobile vending shifts to the Department of Public Works. "I think we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a mistake." What about JapaCurry owner Jay Hamada, who thought he was acting in good faith? Rowe says he can go anywhere he wants ― as long as it's not Downtown.
"The benefit of that business model is that you can go anywhere," Rowe says. "I think that's an important distinction. So I wouldn't say that [Hamada] is the most hurt party here."
As for parking her car in the commercial zone on Second Street where JapaCurry has a permit to sell, Rowe says she's parked there for nine years. And JapaCurry's other space on Mission and New Montgomery streets, where Rowe's car happened to be last Thursday, when JapaCurry arrived? Rowe says her office is nearby, and it was pure coincidence that she was parked there.
"I always park in those places," she says. Asked the address of her office on Mission Street, Rowe declines to say, adding she feels "stalked." And since our post went up about the blocked parking spaces, Rowe says she got a phone call at the restaurant form a woman who threatened to slash her tires if she saw her car in one of JapaCurry's spots. Rowe says her restaurant supports seven families, and she invites anyone who wants to talk about the JapaCurry issue to come speak to her at Harvest and Rowe.
Asked if her car would be parked on Mission Street tomorrow, when JapaCurry is scheduled to sell there, Rowe says she doesn't know.
So where does Rowe think food trucks ought to be, if not ear her restaurant or office? Mission Bay, she says. "There's the Gap and a lot of other corporate entities moving in there and not a lot of infrastructure of cafes. On the weekends there's Ocean Beach and Marina Green ― I genuinely believe that those places would benefit from food trucks. But I don't see food trucks on Chestnut Street or Downtown."
"I think it's a messy issue," Rowe says. "I think we just need to find a new home for the trucks." A new home far from her place of business.