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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Curry Up Now Owner: How Downtown Food Trucks Can Be Good Neighbors

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Curry Up Now has been parking at Bush and Sansome for two years now. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Curry Up Now has been parking at Bush and Sansome for two years now.

Yesterday's food feature in the Weekly described the escalating battle between downtown restaurants and food trucks parking on FiDi streets, which began after San Francisco introduced new -- and apparently flawed -- food-truck regulations in March. Last week, I spoke to Akash Kapoor, co-owner of Curry Up Now, whose truck at Bush and Sansome was one of the early arrivals downtown. I talked to Kapoor about competition, being a good neighbor, and how many trucks are too many for the neighborhood.

How long have you been parking in the Financial District now?
We actually purchased a truck that came with a permit two years ago, and we are in the process of getting permits for a new truck. Our hearing is coming up.

What opposition has Curry Up Now received from nearby businesses?

We have received a little, but you know, some of the nearby restaurants that have opened after us don't have too much to say because we were there before them. We're pretty conscious to not serve the same food. One of the reasons we chose the spot we're at now is that there's a Japanese place nearby, and no other restaurants, except a Freshii -- that's the only two restaurants on that block. We try to park in front of Wells Fargo, so there's no restaurant within 50 feet directly in front of there. And fortunately, no one else sells a tikka masala burrito.

In addition, we've encouraged the coffee shop that's next to us to pass out samples to people waiting in line for Curry Up Now. He says his business has gotten better because of us being there. Every couple of months, some restaurant will call the cops on us, and we'll have someone stop by and ask to see our license. Apart from that, relations have been pretty good.

How many food trucks do you think downtown can support?

I think we're already there. Have you seen our spot? We have a Mexican truck [San Buena] there all day -- he was there before us -- we just got a grilled cheese truck [Toasty Melts] within 50 feet on Sansome, then the other Indian truck [Kasa] and a cupcake truck [CupKate's] around the corner. Our business has slowed down. Food trucks have to get a little more creative, because at this point, we're just going to drive down each others' business or piss off more restaurants.

That's why you have to go outside. Hit the dinner crowd, for example. Everyone wants to do lunch, but what about the people who want to go home? Also look on the fringes of the neighborhood, or even go outside the city. My restaurant is in San Mateo, and I'm amazed at how much dot-com business there is here. We have no foot traffic around our restaurant and 300 people still show up for lunch.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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