Here at South Jersey Beer Scene our main focus on how the ABC Special Ruling on Limited Brewery Licensees is how it affects the breweries, but it also has caused a ton of collateral damage. There are many people who have built businesses that New Jersey Breweries support and enable someone to make a living. Food trucks have become a big part of that equation and they certainly will be one of the groups of people that will suffer hardship because of this ruling. We have made many friends in this industry, but not all of them brew beer. I started to think about all of the people that we know and reached out to a few of them to get their take on the ruling and how it impacts them.
One of those people is Rob Silcox, who along with his wife Kim own and operate the very popular Rob’s Craft Sandwiches Food Truck. We have been lucky enough to have had their food and it epitomizes everything that is great with this community. They prepare great food and oftentimes will incorporate one or more of the breweries beers into their menu to personalize the experience. Their food is delicious and Rob and Kim are the type of people that you want to see succeed. They are not just there slapping a sandwich at you, they are creating thoughtful culinary creations that enhance the brewery experience. I asked Rob if he would do an op-ed of sorts to let our readers know how his business is affected. The words below are all Rob’s, and I think it brings real clarity to how this ruling may not have been formulated to see the impacts that it has created on non-brewery owners.
Here is what Rob had to say.
Food Truck Fridays, anniversary parties, live bands, Oktoberfest, and new releases are the milestone “special events” at breweries that drive our food truck business through the busy Autumn season and into the off-season. With these dates falling off of our calendar hour by hour as more from this new bill is clarified, I wonder how we will fill those all so important dates before we have to go down for the winter? How can we expand our audience to that new town we were booked at that new brewery in? There are many other food trucks out there that are in the same boat. They’ve modeled their seasons around nights at breweries that are suddenly gone. Now, as we all scramble to fill those dates with hayrides and pumpkin patches, the reach of this bill is felt in full force. Was the intention to stifle the young industries of beer brewing and mobile vending? Was the intention to exclude small business for their local customer base?
Should this pilot program be made permanent, the food trucks that work these events would be severely limited in the places where they can do business, especially in their own communities. Being mobile does not exclude you from being a local business and working with these local breweries has been the best way for us to gain exposure in our hometown and become a part of our business district. Our local breweries were vital in the early growth of our truck. Finally, OUR menus shared bar space with other local restaurants inside the tasting room! Excluding food trucks and menus means ripping them from the fabric of their local communities they’ve worked so hard to immerse themselves into and depend on to stay open.
The relationships we’ve cultivated while working in this industry border on family. I’ve done weddings and rehearsal dinners for customers we’ve met through the serving window. We’ve connected with other small businesses that have used us for employee appreciation lunches and parties. My wife and I have raised pint glasses with fellow husband and wife business owners after a long shift on the truck. The folks who attend the breweries as well as everyone that works at these establishments have become our friends and neighbors as well as our best customers.
Luckily, we still have a chance. This is a pilot program so let’s move forward and let them know what we think of the experiment. Sign the petition. Reach out to your local legislator and let them know that you want breweries to be a part of your community. Support your local brewery whenever possible. But most of all help to save local, small, family run businesses.
Rob Silcox, Owner of Rob’s Craft Sandwiches Food Truck