Pizza di Joey
Pizza di Joey

With the ability to wheel anywhere, food trucks seem like the symbols of culinary freedom. But in Baltimore City, they’re restricted by a law that keeps them 300 ft. away from a brick-and-mortar restaurant that serves similar foods. With a new lawsuit, a pair of food truck owners are trying to change that.

Pizza di Joey owner Joey Vanoni and Madame BBQ’s Nikki McGowan said they feel especially squeezed out by the law, given the amount of pizza and BBQ joints in the city. With the help of the Institute of Justice, they sued the city in Baltimore district court to stop the law. The owners say it is hurting entrepreneurs, and preventing them from getting near potential customers.

“Its sole purpose is to protect brick-and-mortar business from competition by arbitrarily preventing food trucks from operating based on what they sell,” Institute attorney Greg Reed, who is representing the vendors, said of the lawsuit.

The organization is looking to clear the way for food trucks in cities around the country, and has settled a similar lawsuit in San Antonio.

Update: Responding to the litigation, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the lawsuit is “much ado about nothing.”

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.