Markets are for consumers, food cart edition

As Oregon food carts continue to boom, regulators are considering issuing licenses allowing them to serve alcohol in fixed areas. And why not? OK, there might be some legit concerns, but protecting the interests of brick and mortar restaurants isn’t one of them:

There are two problems, as we see it, and not only do they seem insurmountable, but they also appear to be linked. First, food carts would have difficulty policing alcohol service to make sure it is legal and responsible.

Second, if they found a way to solve that problem by fencing or roping off their alcohol service areas, other restaurants could gripe, quite legitimately, that the carts are undermining their businesses. [...]

And to the extent that the cart develops a fixed service area, where customers are confined and consuming alcohol, the cart would unfairly infringe on full-service restaurants that pay full freight and must jump through all the hoops to open their businesses.

Remember, markets are for consumers. If a restaurant owner with indoor seating, full service, and a real kitchen can’t compete with a cart, they might be in the wrong business — and it shouldn’t be regulators’ job to keep them in it.

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