Who doesn’t love food trucks? Summer festivals have showcased the variety of food trucks on the Island, selling street food of every kind to customers who like the opportunity to buy a beverage here, a savoury food there and a sweet treat somewhere else.
Street food used to be the sort of food we encountered on holidays abroad, patronized by locals and visitors but rarely available where we lived.
People used to be wary of ‘roach coaches,’ but a couple of activities have brought change. First, today’s regimen of government health inspection has taken care of almost all worries. And second, some high-end restaurants began to enter the scenes.
The food truck business has benefited both from the competition from established brand food looking for ways to expand their selling space and new small businesses incubating free from restaurant overhead costs.
The thing about a food truck is that you are buying from the person who has prepared your food and has a lot invested in safety and quality standards.
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The arrival of food trucks in our cities is a welcome addition to community culture, making it possible for people who want to stroll around special places to buy relatively inexpensive snacks and meals and relax for a while out of doors. Also, social media makes it easy for people to communicate by blogs and pages and tweets and successful food truck operators have learned to communicate with their customers.
The food truck business is increasing by double-digit growth around the world and the City of London has given birth to a remarkable street food presence called Kerb, a series of private marketplaces which have revolutionized the street food scene there. The young woman who started Kerb began with a successful chocolate truck and a commitment to expanding the street food scene beyond her original business. She was approached by a developer with some space to rent and began to organize her colleagues in what she calls “the battle against the bland.”
Kerb now contributes1.5 million dishes per year from over 50 members and is leading the European street food boom. Petra Barran attributes Kerb’s success to the fact that “It’s fun, inexpensive, non-scripted and doesn’t involve sitting in a pub all night.”
Is there a lesson here for Nanaimo?
I wouldn’t know where to go to find food trucks here but I remember attending a multicultural festival on Wesley Street a couple of years ago where the food truck mix and quality was a delight.
What has happened to those businesses?
Marjorie Stewart is past chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.