Photo cred - Liz Ranger
Food truck season is nearly over. October 5th will mark the end of Montreal's second food truck pilot project, and while we always enjoy seeing food trucks on the city streets, we do think there is some room for improvement.
Food truck owners and operators feel the same, as many expressed to Journal Métro in an article published today. A few recommendations were made to improve next year's food truck season, and we have some of our own. To make street food a little better next year, here are 10 ways to Improve next year's food truck season.
1. Extend To Other Boroughs
The downtown/Old Montreal/Plateau areas that are the only places allowed to have food trucks are also littered with tons of restaurants. Other boroughs aren't so lucky, and having food trucks present would seriously benefit residents who don't want to haul it too far to get some tasty eats. Montreal's mayor is actually on board with this idea, so hopefully in 2015 we'll see food trucks all over the city.
2. Cheaper Prices
A major, and recurring, complaint against food trucks has been the somewhat steep price most trucks charge for their food offerings. There are many factors that come into play when a dish is priced on a food truck (ingredients, labour, cost of location if at a festival) so this isn't and easy fix. What many trucks offer are well worth the price, but it'd be nice for some to create a couple of cheaper items that are just as delicious. Using standard ingredients and not going all "artisnal" with everything would probably help.
3. Communication Between City & Trucks
Zoe's food truck operator commented to Metro how there was little communication between the city and food trucks, at least in terms of construction and potential hazards that would decrease the amount customers. Speaking to food truck owners last year, the same problem existed. An official (and frequently used) line of communication between the city and food trucks would ensure that operators know whether they should head to a spot or not.
4. Park Spots For Food Trucks
How amazing would it be if food trucks could park directly inside of a park? The closest thing we have now is the food truck spot by the George-Étienne Cartier Monument, but that's all the way by the street, which is such a trek if you're knee dip in a chill sesh deep within the park. Most parks have paved streets to allow smaller vehicles, and having a food truck would seriously benefit all park goers, and the trucks would get some serious business to boot.
5. Improve Existing Food Truck Locations, Include More
Also commented in Metro is how existing structures (like Bixi stands) have decreased the visibility of food trucks on the street and basically messed with the flow of customers. Official food truck spots should be designed to facilitate all food truck operations. I mean, why else would they go there? Again. including some more spots would be better too.
6. Food Trucks Year Round
Winter's harsh winds may make it a little difficult to go out into the streets to grab some food, but in all honesty, it's only that deathly cold from January to February. Fall and spring are still pretty bearable. Food trucks could easily still be handing out food to passersby well beyond the beginning of October, and well before the start of May. More food availability is always a better thing.
7. Have The City Help In Planning
Gaëlle Cerf, vice-president of Quebec's street food restaurateurs association (ARRQ), explicitly stated that for food trucks to prosper in the coming years, the City of Montreal should get involved with the planning of the system and the documentation of all trucks. Makes sense, as these trucks will be in the city's boroughs, and at the end of the day the municipality has the final say on food truck operations, so city officials should be involved in planning, so as to make the decision-making process much easier. It would also take some stress off the ARRQ.
8. Creation Of An Official Food Truck Tracker
StreetFoodMTL is a great resource, and nearly all food trucks have a twitter account saying where they'll be and when, but an official food truck tracker, one created in collaboration with the ARRQ and the City of Montreal, is definitely needed. A one-stop resource for food trucks, best in an app-form, would make everyone's lives a little easier, and probably increase customer traffic.
9. Make Street Meat A Thing
Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but having hot dog, falafel, or whatever else cart on the street would be an amazingly convenient food course. Street meat carts could easily fall underneath the umbrella of food trucks, and we do believe they would need to be sanctioned by the ARRQ and meet certain requirements. If the city helped out, the ARRQ could handle the extra load of street meat stands. Ideally these guys would operate a bit later in the day, because how amazing would it be to get a bratwurst at 2am on St. Laurent?
10. Lighten Up On Food Truck Qualifications
To be a food truck in Montreal, you need to have access to a commercial kitchen. This is to ensure that only quality food is produced, and no food truck is just buying things at Costco and selling it for more money. Totally justified, though it does exclude any aspiring chef from having a food truck, at least those not backed by a restaurant or lack the funds to gain access to a commercial kitchen. Many believe that is what Montreal food trucks "got wrong," as food trucks are meant to be a way for those with less means to still open operate in the restaurant industry. Perhaps a middle ground could be found, where cooking processes could be documented/reviewed rather than the facilities, thus allowing for more people to operate food trucks.
For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte
Photo cred – Bill Bins