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Government shutdown hits DC's food truck business

The Washington Post reports sales at several trucks are down 50 percent or more since federal offices closed last week.

The Associated Press

10/7/2013

WASHINGTON  — Business has plummeted for Washington's food truck industry due to the government shutdown, forcing some trucks to lay off staff and stay off the streets.

The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/GDD4Rv ) reports sales at several trucks are down 50 percent or more since federal offices closed last week. Josh Saltzman, the co-owner of the PORC truck already decided to take his vehicle off the street after a day of sluggish business.

Food truck owners said they rely heavily on federal workers at L'Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle, the Navy Yard and near the State Department to keep their businesses afloat.

Layth Mansour, the owner of Philadelphia Steak Bites and George's Buffalo Wings, says sales were down 65 percent last week. He said that if the shutdown wasn't resolved by Monday, he would have to pull his trucks off the street and lay off workers.

"I'm not going to be able to afford the employees," Mansour said last week on a nearly empty sidewalk. "I'm losing money if I come out now."

Some owners used their savings to start their businesses, leaving little to cover the losses.

The shutdown's timing has been difficult for truck owners, said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, political director for the District Maryland Virginia Food Truck Association. The mobile vendors already have been squeezed by across-the-board federal budget cuts that required furloughs and left fewer dollars for federal workers to spend on street food. The impending cold weather also will have an impact on outdoor vendors.

"It's scary to think that this is going to happen for a couple more weeks," said Ruddell-Tabisola who owns the BBQ Bus. "Then the temperature drops, and we have to compete with the elements.

"It makes me so angry that our elected leaders can't fulfill their responsibility," Ruddell-Tabisola said.

Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com

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