Tech is Killing Street Food {San Francisco and Bangalore]


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The article has good points, but is a mess that uses tech as theme/scapegoat, even where not appropriate, and doesn’t have insight into the Bay Area’s history of street food. The permitting issue is a big challenge, and they don’t articulate how this has anything to do with tech.

You get the impression the London-based author has no idea about the Mexican food trucks spread throughout the east bay, some of which currently serve non-tech industries/office parks, or that SF, with a few exceptions, didn’t have a particularly thriving street food culture, the kind seen in other countries, in the early 2000s and before.

I agree that tech has had a lot of impacts on mom and pop restaurants, as well as laundromats and countless other businesses. But the article doesn’t make a convincing tie to street food specifically.

I’m curious —by the numbers, separately for farmers markets, food trucks, and actual street vendors, has street food, the type not driven by “former tech workers” increased or decreased in the past 10-20 years? (Though an increase could be driven by lack of opportunities for brick and mortar)


Poorly written.

First, SFBA doesn’t have a strong street food culture to begin with.

Second, the author is confusing correlation and causation. The growth of tech industry coincides with street food getting impacted in Bangalore. But its policy killing street food. You can argue many other Asian cities’ street food culture got hit significantly when economies developed from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’ status, but most of them are not tech hubs. It gentrification and city policy that affected street food.

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The article did seem like a conclusion in search of supporting evidence. If anything, tech has benefited the growth of the food truck scene by providing a new market (and relatively few food trucks are actually the products of ex-tech hipsters). How many times have you found SoMa StrEat Food Park closed “for private event” - - usually for a tech firm.

In addition to a growing market, Food Truck Culture 2.0 owes a debt to Matthew Cohen (for all his faults), who was so instrumental in getting the permitting process in San Francisco normalized and simplified, and visionaries like Carlos Muela (SoMa StrEat Food Park, Spark Social).

If you consider food trucks on City streets (as opposed to in food truck “parks”) as “street food,” there’s definitely been an increase over the scattering of taco trucks and “roach coaches” selling cello-wrapped sandwiches that existed 10 ears ago. I’m not sure about sidewalk vendors, but there’s hope for a better future for them.

The author mentions La Cocina, but LC swims against the current, nurturing street food vendors (and would-be street food vendors) into well-regarded brick-and-mortar owners, to the benefit of all of us.

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And given the purported “international perspective”, it’s rather odd that no mention at all was made of the past couple of years’ fairly heated “conflict” over changing the face of Bangkok’s traditional street food “scene”, which has no obvious connection to any sort of “tech development” at all (e.g., Thai street food sellers battle Bangkok’s clearance campaign, among many other articles online, not all of which by any means are as critical of the government campaigns to “clean things up”). Or at least judging by an allusion made in that Aljazeera article about Bangkok, the nature of the “street food” in Singapore (which concededly has a stronger tradition of Rigid Law & Order than many other places).