A few weeks ago I decided to add Thursdays to the schedule because it’s getting warmer and I got bills to pay!
First time out on Thursday night, no problem. Didn’t sell a ton, but it was just enough to make it worthwhile.
Second time, problem. A cop showed up from the police station across the street, wrote down my license plate number, and took info from my ID card, all of which he tapped into his phone instead of on an official ticket-like document. Strange.
The following week, I skipped Thursday and instead went to Itaewon to drink and ask around if the cops were still being assholes. The answer was no!
The Thursday after that, problem again. Told to leave, not by an Itaewon cop, but by a Yongsan-gu cop. That’s kind of like getting kicked in the balls by someone with a higher pay grade which tends to hurt more.
The thing about doing this food truck in Itaewon is that being told to leave doesn’t always mean you can’t come back! After getting the boot on that first Thursday about 3 weeks ago, I spent the next night (Friday) trying to park in Sinchon and Hongdae. Naturally, that didn’t work cuz parking in those areas are just as bad as Kangnam which has already banned me from the burger truck days. So on Friday, after failing up north, I drove back down to Itaewon to see who, if anyone, was out selling… and… EVERYBODY was out there selling food, including people who got booted with me the night before.
So I pull my truck up directly in front of the police station, march in there, and order my Korean part-timer Gee to ask the cops DUDE WTF!! Why do these other people get to park their food trucks and I don’t?
Turns out the across-the-street Itaewon cops don’t really give a shit if we’re selling food at night. The previous night they got a complaint from someone, probably a business owner, and they were obligated to do their job and tell me to leave. Off the record, though, they don’t care if we come back a little later and park in the exact same spot we were kicked out of just as long as we respect their demands and hit the road when they say so.
It’s a fucked up cat-and-mouse game we play in Itaewon. It seems like if the local cops show up, we just need to disappear for an hour or so and then we can go back to business as usual. If the Yongsan-gu cops say get out, that actually means get out, for the night anyway.
Compared to other areas in Seoul, parking in Itaewon is really easy especially since I’ve been at this for a few months now and the other trucks know that the spot in front of Hamilton Hotel is MY spot. I don’t try to jack their spot and they don’t try to jack mine. Still, the taco biz would be a lot easier… and probably generate a lot more cash… if I could move it indoors! People think that running a truck is better economically, and that would be true if I could do business during daylight hours, but I’m starting to give serious thought to trading in the truck for a place with a front door. The truck’s success is heavily dependent on the weather, the hours are restrictive, and parking is sometimes a huge pain in my ass, but when I’m out there in the middle of the night on weekends I’m selling a lot of food. Makes me wonder what I could do with normal hours + extended drunk hours on the weekends and a 6-7 day schedule.