CALGARY, CANADA – It was deemed a recipe for success — but three years after city hall tweaked licencing rules to make food truck culture a reality, the mobile kitchens appear mired in a menu of mutual misery with Calgary restaurants.
A new city hall report shows most downtown eateries don’t like the food trucks, blaming them for reduced profits, while those operating the gourmet grub wagons say the city’s constant meddling in favour of traditional restaurants is ruining their business.
“Going to work isn’t always fun, but it should be some of the time — and it wasn’t,” said Margie Hope, one of Calgary’s original food truck operators.
Hope’s Blamwich! food truck is no longer in business, and the one-time outspoken advocate of what was called a culinary revolution says she isn’t alone in throwing in the dish towel.
Of the ten original food trucks in Calgary, greeted with such fanfare in August 2011 when city hall relaxed licensing rules, only two are still operating.
Even though there are still close to 40 licenced trucks in Calgary, Hope says it’s simply become too stressful to try and earn a living selling to the public, and many have reduced their sales to private events only.
“The system was nickel-and-diming us to death, and for the few months we could operate in Calgary, the overhead was just too much,” said Hope.
“It’s just a lot of pandering to the brick and mortar restaurants by the city.”
It’s with some irony that Hope is now one of those brick-and-mortar restaurateurs, of the sort who should be largely annoyed by food trucks.
Along with fellow food-truck pioneer Jody Barned, who’s parked her own JoJo’s BBQ business for good, Hope now runs a restaurant in Marda Loop called The Farmer’s House, selling the same simple food that made their trucks so popular.
“I still don’t buy the theory that business drops when a food truck is parked nearby,” said Hope.
“It’s certainly not a free-for-all.”
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