CALGARY, ALBERTA – When Brendan Bankowski looks at a map of the city to determine where to park his Perogy Boyz food truck each day to sell gourmet dumplings, he sees a lot of choice.
“Where you can go is 95 per cent of the map,” said Bankowski. “There’s a lot of places we can go.”
But the conditions and guidelines established for the food truck pilot program include some specific prohibitions on where the city’s eight new mobile cuisine stands can and can’t operate.
The entire Uptown 17th Avenue Business Revitalization Zone is a no roll zone, as is the Kensington BRZ, Stephen Avenue Walk and 4th Street in Mission between Elbow Drive and 17th Avenue S.W.
Restrictions are in place in Inglewood, Victoria Park, Marda Loop and along International Avenue. They were negotiated in co-operation between the truck operators, the BRZs and the city.
“I don’t think any of the food truck operators are disappointed we can’t park on 17th Avenue,” said Bankowski.
“That’s totally fine. The trucks are a draw on their own.
“They’re a totally different experience than going into a restaurant.”
Several BRZs asked for the restrictions as a protective measure against added competition for established restaurants and fast food outlets.
However, many owners of local eateries have embraced the food truck movement. Bankowski said he’s received phone calls from restaurants and pubs requesting that he park near them to tap into the new popularity of the street food.
He had a chef from one Beltline establishment invite him to move closer to take advantage of the better foot traffic.
The owners of the new Ox and Angela restaurant opening in the 500 block of 17th Avenue S.W. invited four food trucks to set up in the parking lot behind the building as part of a grand opening party Monday night.
This is allowed under the pilot project guidelines because it was on private property and the trucks were invited by the owners.
“We thought it would be fun for our customers to try out their food too,” said Jayme MacFayden, part owner of Ox and Angela as well as UNA Pizza on 17th Avenue.
“It really added something, you could walk out the back door and all the food trucks were there. It made you feel like you were in a different city – it’s something we haven’t seen in the city before.
“All our customers commented on what a cool idea it was too.”
The food trucks operate by using social media, largely Twitter and Facebook, to announce where they’ll be parking each day to sell their wares.
As a result of their tweets and Facebook updates, MacFayden said people were lined up behind her new restaurant two hours before the food trucks arrived.
She said she’d like to see the trucks allowed to serve their street cuisine right on 17th Avenue in the future.
“The more people that come down to the area, the better it is for everybody,” said MacFayden. “The food trucks are garnering a lot of attention right now and all it’s going to do is bring more people down to 17th Avenue, and that’s what we really need right now.”
Jennifer Rempel, executive director of the 4th Street BRZ, said restrictions were put in place to protect restaurant owners who were nervous about what the introduction of the food trucks might mean to their businesses.
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