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TaKorean Owner Responds to Yesterday’s Incident with MPD

by Prince Of Petworth March 23, 2011 at 10:30 am 40 Comments

“My name is Mike Lenard and I am the Owner and Operator of TaKorean as well as the Assistant Director of the DC Food Truck Association (DCFTA). I know there has been talk between here and Food Truck Fiesta about some of the events that went down yesterday. I appreciate PoP for giving me the opportunity to explain what happened.

During lunch service yesterday (Tuesday), I was approached by a Metro PD officer who had received a call from someone around to the Metro Center area saying that we were operating without a “site permit.” Currently, food trucks are not required to have site permits under Dept. of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) regulations. The officer was either misled or misinformed about vending regulations and opted to shut me down until he could find an answer to the situation. All of my licenses and paperwork were completely in order and with me the entire time, as they are every time we’re out.

I made a call to the Vending/Special Events coordinator at DCRA, Sam Williams. I contacted him so that he could call the officer’s precinct clarifying the DC regulations concerning food trucks. After that MPD Officer Steinbach, the MPD vending expert, was dispatched to the scene. Once Officer Steinbach arrived, he explained the regulations to the first officer, and we were allowed to re-open without further incident.

Unfortunately, I was not the only truck that experienced this interruption in service yesterday. I later learned that two other food trucks experienced very similar situations in the Farragut Square area. I know that it is frustrating for both the food trucks as well as the law enforcement agencies to see precious resources like time and energy get wasted on these calls.

Both myself and the rest of the DCFTA know this is just one part of a larger, on-going conversation that we’re looking forward to participating in as our industry continues to grow and prosper during the next several months and years.

We’re excited to be a part of such a vibrant metropolitan area, and I can assure you that you’ll be hearing more from those of us at the DC Food Truck Association soon. On behalf of myself and the other food truck vendors that make up the DCFTA, we thank you for your overwhelming support, and appreciate Prince of Petworth for giving me the opportunity to clarify yesterday’s situation at Metro Center.”

  • Native American JD

    Support food trucks. Shut down the MPD!

    • Anonymous

      + a billion

  • Michael

    A police officer using authority and the threat of force to cover up their own ignorance? Never!

    • Anonymous


  • police state

    classic mis-use of authority and possible collusion with a nearby business. it could be an honest mistake but this officer and the call preceding this incident needs to be investigated.

  • photodork

    So when are you going to start collecting sales tax Mike?

    • joker


      “pay sales tax to the city in which I prosper, no thanks!”

    • james

      My guess is that he’ll start paying them when he’s required to do so by law.

      Do you really expect him to pay a tax he’s not required to pay, out of the kindness of his heart?

  • B

    That’s a spot on response from the Takorean guy. Gives a good background of what happened, shows he’s understanding of the situation and the cop’s role, isn’t angry, but is clear that he was in the right.

    Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ food trucks!

  • shaq

    Who got paaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiidddd?

  • Curious

    So if this is happening all over to multiple food trucks, who are the idiots wasting the police’s time bothering these guys?

    It’s my understanding that while some restaurants are cool with the food trucks, there’s some who are out leading the charge to stamp out the competition, which is just dumb.

    Anyone know who these restaurants are? Too bad we can’t all get along…

    • Rukasu

      Firehook Bakery at Farragut Square has been reported to do on a couple occasions

  • It’s nice to know you’re just a misleading phonecall away from shutting down the competition.

    • LisaT

      Ha! Indeed!

  • They hassle these legitimate and positive businesses, while letting people sell schlocky crap outside the Giant while blasting music… Ugh.

    • Anonymous

      Same way they treat their citizens. At least they’re consistent.

    • Keepin’ it real

      +1. Seriously, how come that annoying dude doesn’t get shutdown?

  • DC Resident

    Food trucks have become a vital part of the community. I’m glad to see they are standing their ground. These frivolous complaints and police harassment must stop. It is a waste of tax dollars and city resources.

    If anyone should be in trouble, it should be the people who call and make these obviously false complaints.

    Thank you TaKorean and all other DC food trucks for the service you provide the city!

    • Ray

      “vital part of the community”??

      really? it’s a food truck.

      did you praise your flower guy outside the metro today for the services he provides?

  • Maire

    I’m curious about who made the intial call to the police and why.

    Competitor? The post says the caller said that the trucks were operating without a ‘site permit’ – does your average citizen know these terms?

    Just makes me wonder how this whole situation even got started.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a big difference between ineptitude and corruption. I know all the Che Guevara’s out there want to pretend there’s a conspiracy, but there are zero cops willing to put their jobs on the line to put a food truck out of business in such a public way. The risk/reward is way too low.

    He was most likely just misinformed.

    As a further anecdote, MPD is asking for extra money to “train” officers how to enforce parking regulations. If you’re a cop and you don’t know the parking regulations by heart, there’s no way you know the street vendor food permit regulations. Ineptitude explains this incident better.

    • Curious

      I definitely agree with you, but it seems like the real problem is the idiot(s) who are bothering the police with these frivolous calls.

      Last time I checked, it was against the law to file a false report.

      • Anonymous

        …and that is a problem, and should be dealt with accordingly.

        But let’s not use a scattershot to place blame. Appropriate blame and repercussions on appropriate targets.

  • g

    i don’t blame mpd as much as i blame the dickbag restaurant owners who keep calling these in.

  • Thanks to the brick-and-mortar restaurants, DC food trucks have higher hygiene scrutiny than them, and so get more of my business. Restaurants near where I work (McPherson) keep getting health violations without having to shut their doors, and patrons keep walking in the door oblivious to the health risks. Restaurants, keep dropping a dime on the food trucks, I’ll keep dropping my money on them.

  • Maire

    Yeah, I mean, MPD by law has to respond to investigate a call like that. What happened from there sounds like it could have potentially been handled better, but it’s not MPD’s fault for showing up and inquiring about paperwork. If someone calls it has to be addressed.

    And it sounds like the caller knows all the right buzz words.

    • ah

      He may have to show up but he doesn’t have to shut it down. At least with a parking ticket you can appeal. In this case Takorean lost 30 mins of sales and left some customers hungry. No way to appeal that.

      If there was in fact a violation why wasn’t a citation enough?

  • Huh?

    MPD does NOT by law have to show up–every day decisions are made about what crimes to respond to based upon priority and community safety. Apparently there were no robberies, burglaries, rapes or murders yesterday so the police had someone to spare to investigate this.

    • Chris R

      exactly what a waste of police resources. Get the cops out walking/riding/segwaying a beat in the alleys and streets where they are needed not checking paperwork that is clearly in order.

    • Bitter Elitist

      you forgot arson. They didn’t show up when I caught a guy setting fire to my building.

  • Ray

    So, has the cupcake food truck tried to pull up outside Georgetown Cupcake yet, or what?

  • grumpy

    That was a very classy response to what I’m sure was a frustrating situation. I look forward to sampling his tacos!
    Meanwhile, does anyone have any tips on which trucks come near Union Station during the week?

    • Anonymous

      follow this site to find food truck locations


    • Curious

      I check http://foodtruckfiesta.com every day, because all the trucks GPS are tracked on a nice big map and you can also follow each truck’s tweets about their location in one central spot.

      Makes tracking food trucks a breeze!

  • Maire

    I’m pretty sure that there were robberies and burglaries in the city yesterday and that MPD deploys its manpower to be able to handle competing calls for service. I’m also pretty sure that there is a mandate saying that the police must respond to 911 calls – that’s why officers are dispatched to addresses even when people hang up, etc. But I’m too lazy to confirm that by googling or making a phone call.

  • Geoff

    What is the problem here? Men and women working hard to earn a buck in a tough economy. I have only eaten from a few of these trucks (Curbside Cupcake, DC Empanadas, Red Hook Lobster Truck, Eat Wonky) but the food is first rate and like some of the rest of you have said, the cleanliness of the trucks far outreach the restaurants. It’s a capitalist society, folks. Get over the fact that they are taking your business, do something real about it rather than wasting MPDs time. They have enough to worry about covering up the Mayor’s campaign indiscretions.

  • Anonymous

    How does an MPD officer enforce a law s/he clearly knows nothing about. I’m guessing vending laws isn’t covered during basic training, but atleast get an understanding of the law or regulation before you take action. This wasn’t a situation involving harm. I agree MPD had an obligation to investigate, but didn’t need to shut the place down.

  • DC foodie

    Odd that joker is suddenly silent today about this. Maybe he’s working on his BID talking points to use with MPD for the next frivolous complaint.

  • Q-Street

    The food trucks are still a relatively new thing to DC, so I can’t really fault the officer too much. I’m sure he won’t make the same mistake again.

    I hope Takorean didn’t lose too much business out of the ordeal. I’ve been meaning to check out their food truck.

  • Foodlove

    Cheers to a classy response, from a classy food truck. TaKorean serves excellent food, and I’m glad to see that they’re engaged in protecting the business rights of the food truck community.

    PS, TaKorean’s beef tacos and tofu tacos are amazing (and I’m not a tofu person).


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