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2013-06-04 at 17:17

Food trucks parked

By Jamie Smith,
ROCK 94Your Rock Station, Always has…Always will be! Click Here!

Food trucks have been a hit in major North American cities but so far the culinary trend hasn’t been driving along the streets of Thunder Bay.

Lincoln Street Eatery owner Jennifer Sauve became interested in the phenomenon while travelling through the United States. Speaking with owners in places like Minneapolis and New Orleans, she wanted to bring the idea home to Thunder Bay.

But after doing some research into the city’s by-laws, Sauve decided to park a food trailer on her Lincoln Street location instead while her new restaurant is being renovated. Sauve does serve food truck fare though.

Last Saturday’s menu featured gourmet hotdogs like the Fat Elvis, which is topped with bananas, bacon, peanut butter and chocolate. For the less adventurous there’s also the Paul Shaffer, a plain hotdog or “bald” as the menu refers to it.

“It’s exciting,” she said of a culture that sees trucks use social media to inform customers about where and what they’ll be serving before faithful foodies line up to try different takes on traditional fare. “It’s something new.”

In order to operate a food truck in Thunder Bay, a license is required. Police background checks and fire inspections, along with provincial compliance through the health unit is needed. City bylaw manager Ron Bourret said there have been some inquiries this year from prospective operators.

“It’s a good thing for the city,” he said. “We think of it as part of our downtown ambiance.”
But a bylaw adopted in 2005 would require a truck to be at least 60 metres from an established restaurant, which might make it difficult for a truck to be near a place like the downtown north core where people congregate.

“That’s why the restaurants are there too though because that’s where the people are,” Bourret said.

An operator could ask a restaurant for permission in writing to be closer an establishment though. If there is more interest in food trucks and issues do arise, of which there have been no complaints from operators or restaurants since the by-law was changed, the city could look into changing its laws.

“Since 2005 maybe it’s time we had another look at how we do business here but we’ve never received any objections from the refreshment vehicles to date,” Bourret said.
Sauve said she’s not sure how food trucks would affect another business until they’re on the ground.

“I don’t think it’s an issue until someone actually gets one,” she said.

And Bourret is hoping that happens. Traveling through places like Washington, D.C., he experienced food trucks first hand.

“There’s a really neat variety. It’s amazing the stuff that you can get,” he said.

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We've improved our comment system.
Armchair Tom Brady says:
"a bylaw adopted in 2005 would require a truck to be at least 60 metres from an established restaurant"

Can someone explain the point of this bylaw? It's a TRUCK - it's mobile by design. Let them park wherever they want.
6/4/2013 5:30:19 PM
mystified says:
And if you owned a restaurant and they were parked out front you'd go squirrlier.
6/4/2013 7:36:07 PM
virtualrealityczech says:
typical backwater small town mentality... instead of encouraging growth in this segment of the food service industry the city puts up protectionist bylaws to stymie this free enterprise type of venture.

So after obtaining the proper licences and jumping through the necessary hoops... a legally operated food truck cannot operate in thevsame neifgbourhood as a brick and mortar building.

Why are any two restaurants permitted to operate near each other.

No one can accuse the city fathers of being forward thinking that's for sure.

a licence
6/4/2013 9:50:27 PM
Back-in-the-bay says:
Others have already touched on this point but haven't seemed to point out the best argument for parts of the bylaw as it is currently read... Food trucks vs brick and mortar establishments are apples and giraffes with regard to overhead. A 4000 old cube van with 1000 bucks of ancient equipment and a 60lbs propane tank, with one or two staff, usually the owners, don't entitle you to potentially infringe on other business. Local restaurants cough up plenty of taxes that should provide some protection from this transient type of business. If your food truck fails, you might be out 10-15k, if your restaurants fails you might be out 100sK of dollars. It's two separate types of business. Food trucks should obviously be encouraged at every effort, but not at the detriment of other established businesses.
6/5/2013 8:15:10 AM
Just sayin' says:
That sounds like a Government protectionist - Survival of the fittest, if you can't outperform a foodtruck with your ambiance, food quality, service, etc. than pack it in. We should let the public decide with their feet and dollars.
6/5/2013 9:25:53 AM
cariboukid says:
This city is so backwater, it's truly embarrassing.
6/4/2013 5:39:40 PM
SomeGuy says:
Time to change the bylaw. Street food is some of the best food ever just another way this city stifles small business.
6/4/2013 7:19:26 PM
YellowSnow13 says:
The city is anti-business. It's as simple as that. 60M from a restaurant is stupid if you ask me. But then again, if you owned a restaurant and some truck parked right in front of your place and was taking business from you, you would be the first to complain to the city.
Now you also can't park that truck on the street like you see on TV. You need property to park it on. Only then is it legal. Part of the same by-law. You can't even park a hot dog cart on the street here.
And to top it off, the city just raised the taxes on businesses here. But not for the food truck.
6/4/2013 8:03:42 PM
varga says:
I am not trying to start your standard TBNEWSWATCH comment fight here but what exactly is backwater about this. I am seriously confused because as I understand backwater wouldn't that be if any Tom, Dick or Harry could start up a food truck without any rules or inspections? I am sure food trucks are bound by similar by-laws in other cities as well. Also, the 60 M thing isn't really that unreasonable considering that every restaurant downtown is locally owned and basically constitutes a food truck without wheels. Youa lso don't see many food trucks parked outside restaurants elsewhere either. Think of some of the spots that are 60M from a restaurant in the North End alone...The overpass end of the waterfront, Hillcrest park, Waverly Park, outside PA Stadium, Current River park, Birch Point Disc Golf Course...all pretty wicked spots for a food truck...Sure the by-law could be tweaked and they even suggest that could happen in the article.
6/4/2013 8:14:50 PM
SomeGuy says:
Food trucks and carts would still have to pass all healthy and safety regulations.

Outside PA stadium would not work since the stadium sells food, you also have A&W and Sushi Station very close to it.

What about lunch? You need to go where people work and this eliminates both downtown areas.
6/4/2013 10:47:03 PM
Glyder says:
Outside PA stadium would work, as it is not an established restaurant. It sells snacks, not meals. And you do understand how far 60 meters is correct? It's not very far at all, so Sushi Station and A&W would not figure in at all.

You could park a truck at the marina to compete with Bight. A lot of the people working in the PA downtown core could/would walk to the marina for a food truck, as Bight would be too long a wait on a 45-60 min lunch.
6/6/2013 8:23:06 AM
BlueJay12 says:
Just another reason this city will be stuck in the shadows of all the other city's moving and progressing forward! ITS A FOOD TRUCK!
6/4/2013 8:27:08 PM
Eastender says:
So, lets say you had a restaurant, and a truck parked in the empty lot right next to you, and your customer count began to decline affecting your bottom line. Would you be a happy camper? The city is right about this bylaw.
6/4/2013 10:29:43 PM
hardrawkin says:
I think that it would be telling me that there is something wrong with my restaurant.
6/5/2013 6:25:54 AM
Winger says:
Another big reason is the city has a hard time taxing a food truck. With a brick and mortar affair, they can come in and strong arm you into taxes, fire suppression systems, handicap entrances and facilities, washroom facilities for 3 different sexes all equipped with diaper change tables. They can tell you the maximum occupancy rights, ensure you don't serve someone an evil bottle of beer and if you did youd have to have bouncers dressed in uniforms and be licenced.

all so they can muscle their way into YOUR money. That's how it works.

Thunder Bay is only business friendly to the existing ones that pay the right people.
6/4/2013 10:42:18 PM
nat_geo says:
I'm surprised you didn't suggest restaurant owners arm themselves with shotguns to scare the big bad taxman away.
6/5/2013 8:07:26 PM
Winger says:
That why people immigrated to North America in the first place. They wanted to take away their guns and make them pay excessive taxes.

History repeats itself. But when there's nowhere left to run to, then what happens?

The big bad taxman might be on the losing end next time.
6/6/2013 12:44:42 PM
Glyder says:
This is a joke comment, right? Really - strongarm you into...
fire suppression system? It's called safety.
Handicap entrances and facilities? It's called human rights.
Washroom facilities with diaper change tables? Its called meeting the needs of your customers.
And really? What restaurant in this city that sells alcohol employs bouncers. And no, bars/taverns etc, while they do serve food, also give a different social experience.

Sorry, your post fails.
6/6/2013 8:28:48 AM
Winger says:
You obviously never owned a restaurant in Thunder Bay.

Sorry, your knowledge failed.
6/6/2013 12:46:58 PM
SomeGuy says:
Brick and Mortar restaurants can open up within 60m of each other why not food trucks?

Here is a quick diagram of the North core, the red circles are 60m roughly, lots of overlap.

6/4/2013 10:50:12 PM
Back-in-the-bay says:
You are too correct,but your logic is flat wrong. There is a massive difference between the two types of business start up, operating cost and reality. A food truck can follow the business anywhere, the location option could be limitless, unless they are unfairly competing with brick and mortar establishments. Obviously restaurants open up within tight geographical areas to one another, it doesn't take Magellan to figure that put, but they are on equal playing fields with regard to operating and startup.
6/5/2013 8:26:05 AM
mikevirtanen1961 says:
Lumberjacks finishes off St Paul, and Mr. Sub closes the gap in Red River Road. McDonalds, Stans, The Beacon, Silver Birch, Thai Kitchen, and the Casino should more-or-less eliminate Cumberland. There's a Caribbean place on Park, and the Legion on Van Norman. It looks like the busy parts of the core are essentially all covered.

I would be in favour of an amendment that would allow a food truck in the prescribed areas, so long as it does not spend more than X days a month near any given restaurant.
6/5/2013 9:13:30 AM
Wolfie says:
Thanks for taking the time to illustrate with a map. These circles seem too small to be 60m in radius though. If the trucks have to be 60m from a restaurant, then the circles would have to be 60m in radius, not diameter.

Or maybe they are and I have a terrible sense of scale.
6/5/2013 9:30:34 AM
SomeGuy says:
You are correct I made it diameter.
6/5/2013 12:00:59 PM
fiorn says:
I like what you did there, but your circles are far too small. Take madeFresh on Red River, for example: your red circle ends just across the road from the restaurant's doors.
I know this is nitpicky, but 60m is actually really far! Put another way, it's the distance Usain Bolt can run in about 6 seconds (far) :-)
6/5/2013 10:17:27 AM
Conker2012 says:
People will go where the good food is, that it is plane and simple. If a food truck parks I front of a crap restaurant it would actually bring people to the area around the crap restaurant and perhaps someone will walk in there I stead of eating on the street. If a food truck was parked at the marina by bight there would be no loss of business for bight, because both provide a different experience and typically are completely different price points. Where food trucks thrive is on the impulse eaters, have you ever gone to a festival and walked past the thai kitchen stand and not had a craving for pad thai? I doubt it.

Food trucks don't usually steal business from restaurants because they don't typically share the same customers.
6/4/2013 11:17:33 PM
countrychick says:
I have seen food truck on tv that makes a deal with bars where people can go out and get food and eat it in the bar. I wish we had the food trucks I see on tv the food looks amazing why not let them park at parks ie boulevard in the summer etc... I have been to the Lincoln street eatery.. Amazing food! I highly recommend trying it out!!
6/4/2013 11:28:31 PM
TbayXpats says:
Moved to Niagara Region 8 months ago. Love the bricks & mortar restaurants here, but... We are absolutely loving the food truck culture (such as el Gastronomo Vagabundo). To us, it's not either/or... it's both! Bon Appetit !!!
6/4/2013 11:32:22 PM
compassn says:
I know if I were a restaurant owner paying city taxes for my business and property,paying for furnishings,staff,security etc....and some mobile food truck were to park near my business and compete against me for business.....I would be VERY upset.
I believe there is room for both parties to do business in this town but the working distance between the two has to be something the restaurant owner has to be comfortable with and be given priority to with this regard.
6/4/2013 11:47:15 PM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
Thunder Bay....still living in the 80's!
6/5/2013 6:35:36 AM
ConsEng1 says:
Restaurants and other prepared food purveyors pay a lot of municipal taxes and other permit fees to operate. Not to mention the high overhead. The food trucks, not so much. I agree to keep the food trucks a reasonable distance away. The question, though, is what's reasonable.
6/5/2013 6:41:46 AM
nvjgu says:
Heart attack trucks.
6/5/2013 7:29:41 AM
Glyder says:
YEt another ignorant comment from you? Did you post that while you were eating your McDonalds?
6/6/2013 8:32:30 AM
city-girl says:
actually a food truck would be nice at the marina for those people that don't want to pay the high restaurant prices down there
6/5/2013 7:50:11 AM
The Beaver..... says:
So I am on my way to Bistro one..but he i see a Food Truck on the corner ..would i now change my mind and eat from the Food Truck..??
I am sure the Lady would not be impressed ...
6/5/2013 8:24:35 AM
mystified says:
In Toronto a food truck vendor is licensed to operate their business in a designated area and yes they have to be a specified distance from a other food service businesses. At lunch hour there are some that have long lineups while the guy down the street picks up the impatient customers.
These trucks don't just pick and choose where to setup shop.
6/5/2013 9:21:24 AM
dman31029 says:
All I'll say is that the best restaurant in your city is Canadian Tire on Ft William Rd.
6/5/2013 9:47:07 AM
justaguy says:
Smart restauranteurs should set up a food truck (with a different name) outside their own business. Getting an agreement would be pretty easy.. :-) Just sayin'.
6/5/2013 11:30:42 AM
keiths31 says:
So I own a restaurant downtown and I pay $20,000/year property taxes. I also pay water. I also pay hydro. I also pay for telephone. I am paying a lot to city owned services. Damn right I'd be ticked off if a mobile tuck set up shop in front of my business. Backwater thinking? Hardly. If the trucks were charged a proportional rate of what I was paying then maybe.
We aren't Toronto, Montreal or even Sudbury. We don't have the critical mass to support both brick and mortar businesses and mobile shops. Everyone complaining on here that we are a backward thinking city, you all just want to have it all, don't you? Face the facts. We are not and never will be a big city.
6/5/2013 12:07:40 PM
Fallen Weeble says:
the market should dictate where people choose to eat, not a quota on the number of restaurants in a particular area. People will always support good food and good service. just my .02
6/5/2013 1:12:04 PM
conker2012 says:
But if the food truck licence cost $25,000 and they had to pay for the use of parking spaces and had to do their own cleanup of the area around their truck before leaving. Who cares if they park in front of your restaurant. It is not like they will be there in the middle of winter and if you have good food with good service at a competative price then you will be just fine. If you own the Adanac then I am sorry you may loose business..... Like you say we don't have the critical mass, the weak will fail and the strong survive.

Where the brick and mortar restaurants hold the advantage is in beer and liquor sales. Food Trucks cannot offer beer or booze with their food. I ask you this how many businesses in the down town north core lost business during Ribfest last year? My guess is that they actually had one of the better weekends they have had that month.
6/5/2013 1:25:25 PM
keiths31 says:
If the food truck paid that much in license fees and paid for parking. Then sure. But do you really think that will be the case?

FYI not all brick and mortar restaurants sell alcohol. There are many in both cores that don't.
6/5/2013 3:46:46 PM
unknowncronik says:
...if u had any type of "food-truck" serving unique, flavor-full foods, I bet it would be a hit regardless WHERE you locate in this city!

Too many FOOTLONGS or SAUSUGES being served here...
Hard to stomach paying almost $5 for a sausage & a bun actually...yea, overhead has some costs, but that's just NuTs!!!!!!
Where are the LAMB GYRO's or the hot roast beefs, the CHEESESTEAK's?????

sElEcTiOn we lack.
6/5/2013 2:22:39 PM
SomeGuy says:
I updated the diagram so the radius is 60m not a diameter of 60m If you look closely. There is probably 10ft just off Park avenue on the right that you could park a truck

6/5/2013 6:58:11 PM
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