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Eat & Drink

Only 6 food trucks buy $5K permits on first day of sale

Posted by Aubrey Jax / May 16, 2014

toronto food trucksPermits for food trucks to operate on Toronto streets went on sale yesterday, and the scene was like the elaborate birthday party of a child that everyone forgot (or possibly abandoned because they couldn't afford adequate presents): dismal. Vendors were expected to crowd early, vying for the only 125 permits available - but instead, only six trucks showed (including newbie Randy's Roti). The city seems to be at a loss: if Toronto food trucks fought so hard for legislation changes, why the tumbleweeds?

Operators like Caplansky's Deli, Fidel Gastro's, and Hogtown Smoke lay the blame on the steep $5000 price tag and over regulation - for instance for trucks to operate from pay and display spots, they must be fifty metres from any restaurant, though no rule exists blocking restaurants from moving next door to one another.

As Hogtown Smoke's Scott Fraser told the CBC, "Even if the permit was $1,000, with all the limitations and parameters the city has included it's just not worth it." It looks like we'll have to wait a lot longer for the most awesome food truck summer ever, while Toronto trucks say they're prepared to look outside the city for ways to generate revenue.

It's not all doom and gloom for food truck lovers. While Toronto's most popular food trucks may not be rolling up street-side near you, food trucks can still operate as usual at special events, on private property as well as Green P parking lots. In short, food trucks will still be out there. They just won't be as widespread and accessible as everyone hoped.



THe pushback on Councillors is Coming... / May 16, 2014 at 09:42 am
City Council....I know you were oly doing your job and you thought you were doing things the most fair way possible, but this bodes poorly for your report card on this file.

I can see this kinda blowing up in their faces and a lot of people complaining to their councillors to fix the lumbering beast of red tape they've created in these new bylaws.

I hope the City and these operators (and all the worried restaurant owners) can sit back down and start again. This is truly a Food City, there is room enough for all, we just haven't struck the right balance yet.

Good luck, our tummies anxiously awaiting your new plan.
Randy replying to a comment from THe pushback on Councillors is Coming... / May 16, 2014 at 10:11 am
Hey you know, you are right!

Why the hell did I just pay 5 grand for this thing? the restrictions on the maximum time in one spot and setback distance from a restaurant are gonna make it a pretty tricky, guess I didn't really think about that too much.......damn.

Hope my roti is as good as I think it is.........
j / May 16, 2014 at 10:15 am
max 3 hours in one spot?

iSkyscraper / May 16, 2014 at 10:15 am
As always, study best practices in other cities, borrow what works, reject what doesn't. Instead, Toronto leaders again navel-gaze and try to reinvent the wheel. No other city charges anything close to $5k for a permit (New York charges $200, for example, and lets the black market set the true value).

The proper move these days is to loosen regulations, not tighten them. There is a reason Portland is the food-truck capital:

tnt replying to a comment from Randy / May 16, 2014 at 10:27 am
That's really rough, and restrictive for a food truck....however;regarding the setback distance from a restaurant issue, keep in mind that some of those restaurants pay over 10 grand per month in rent, not to mention taxes and operating costs..
Al / May 16, 2014 at 10:29 am
Maybe we don't want food trucks taking up every available street parking spot. The trucks who want to continue what they're doing now and selling in parking lots and festivals can do that. This is just giving them an extra opportunity to park on streets. If it isn't worth it then nobody is forcing them.
Adam replying to a comment from Move on / May 16, 2014 at 10:30 am
Small food carts? Like hot dog carts? Very world class.
Adam / May 16, 2014 at 10:35 am
Honestly, everyone should just go sell their good without permits and break every single ridiculous rule city counsel imposed. They seem to keep forgetting they work for us. We need to stop bending over and taking everything they dish out.
tnt replying to a comment from Adam / May 16, 2014 at 10:37 am
We did that in the 80's, it was called Chinatown,lol
david / May 16, 2014 at 10:37 am
hopefully this is the first step in getting food trucks off the street. As a small business owner it is totally unfair for food trucks to come and go as they please swooping in and stealing customers rent free while brick and mortar locations have to deal with rising rent and tmi.
Adam / May 16, 2014 at 10:37 am
Restaurant guy / May 16, 2014 at 10:46 am
They are worried about the 5 grand trying paying 9 grand rent at Queen & spadina EVERY month & then a food truck pulls up .... The only reason why food trucks exist is because the owners can't afford to establish a bricks & motor restaurant & all the costs assoiciated with it. So lets screw all the restaurants in the city put some gas in our trucks buy some food at Costco and rip off some customer on the street for for some #Gourmet eats" Keep truckin somewhere else!!!
Adam replying to a comment from Restaurant guy / May 16, 2014 at 10:57 am
Not true. Some of the food trucks have brick and mortar restaurants. Caplansky's, Fidel Gastros/ Lisa Marie come to mind.
r / May 16, 2014 at 11:06 am
I've never figured out why people want to eat off a truck. never liked it when the lunch wagons came around the construction sites, can't figure it out now. regardless of how 'gourmet' and scene it might be-in the end it is carnival food on paper plates with plastic cutlery. eating this way seems to be a way to fill your pie hole-I prefer to 'dine'. give me bricks and mortar or give me death.
Jeff replying to a comment from Move on / May 16, 2014 at 11:22 am
Thank god no one gives a flying churro what you think. I live no where near Lisa Marie, but do like their food, Fidel Gastros is a perfect way to get it when out and about. Could I drive there, sure, but making the trip for a bite isn't always what I want to do. This is about convenience and options throughout the city.

Good think people like you have no impact on the city, I really don't get your opposition to the food trucks (or diesel), it isn't like they are spewing out black smoke while serving up some chow.
marcus / May 16, 2014 at 11:34 am
david, tell me more about your restaurant that provides the exact same service as a food truck and can't compete with them. I suppose it's a window with no seating or liquor license and a limited menu? Sounds fun!
nj / May 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm
While I sympathize with restaurant owners who have an established brick & mortar shop, and I feel for all who are upset that we don't measure up to all other cities that embrace the food trucks, it's a different ball game. SEASONS PEOPLE! Food trucks may thrive in the summer but that's like complaining that the neighbouring restaurant got a patio and a liquor license and you didn't. Don't like it? Do something about your restaurant, make it more relatable, update your menu, celebrate your regulars, what have you, but don't pretend that these food trucks are actually taking away business you already had. If you're missing it, you're missing it. Maybe you're not a very good business owner.
v79 / May 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm
The only way the ridiculously overpriced $5,000 license could be justified would be to have it represent the trucks' share of property taxes, which unlike brick and mortar restaurants, they do not pay. But in that instance, they should be allowed to set up wherever they wish (within legal parking zones). Councillors failed to understand that the only restaurants that are in direct competition with the food trucks are fast food joints. No one planning to go to a sit down will change their plans due to a conveniently placed food truck. It's a different level of dining experience. In a democratic society, competitors shouldn't have the right to dictate where other businesses set up shop.
Linden / May 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm
I don't care too much about the food trucks although I would give it try if I see one close by. I don't see why the restriction of distance to the nearest restourant is such a big deal. There are plenty of places like University avenue where there are only office buildings and hospital and no restourants , or Front street, or St Clair East ....I can go on and on . One just need to explore a bit
Coxwell Queen / May 16, 2014 at 01:04 pm
It's the first day. Think about that for a second.
tammy terrific / May 16, 2014 at 02:04 pm
Toronto City council was not represented the people they were representing the most powerful business owners with the loudest lawyers. Barbarians, for example. They are yelling loudest about not wanting food trucks near them. As if you would go "food truck or Barbarians, which one for tonight?". Crazy talk.
I watch TV and look longingly at the wonderful array of food trucks that Vancouver and just about every place has. Why not here?
It would be a great way to try new tastes without committing to sitting in a restaurant.
asvavs replying to a comment from Move on / May 16, 2014 at 02:49 pm
do you know where the closest bridge is as well? please find that and jump.....
Alas O'Malley / May 16, 2014 at 02:53 pm
Aye my father did me name, said he "Alas". Had he a lisp. Mom said meant he to call me he did now "an ass".
EatsFromTheStreets / May 16, 2014 at 02:54 pm
Fidel Gastro's/Lisa Marie's is a great example of how the two business models co-exist.

Lisa Marie's is PACKED; every single day... a lot of that had to do with the success of Fidel Gastro's getting the name out to the masses. Caplansky's and Smoke's Poutinerie also follow the same model.

Yes, it's day one... business will consider it an option, but all of the restrictions prohibit growth.
David; Rich makes a very good point - if you're producing great food (in a bricks & mortar or on a truck) the people will come.

Move On; I can understand your concern about having more trucks - but they're not operating their truck engines during operation, and several trucks that would be utilzed are hybrid models (Courier vans are doing the same).

I think more variety and options are a good thing - different business models and methods of getting really great options from talented chefs and cooks into peoples hands (and mouths) is never a bad thing. I'd trade 100 poorly run, un-interesting B&M resto's - for 5 consistently good options.

Adam replying to a comment from whatevah / May 16, 2014 at 03:01 pm
Not so much of a lobby as it is people responding to some pretty ignorant and uneducated comments.
TypicalToronto / May 16, 2014 at 03:51 pm
5K FOR THE PERMIT?! How much is the fine for operating a food truck without a permit? If you move around a bit and don't get busted too often...if the fine is only $100 to $200 each time you get fined, it is probably cheaper to just operate WITHOUT the stupid permit.

Restaurants who are all ticked off that this is going to suddenly kill their business make me laugh. The real issue is that some restaurants are charging 30 dollars for what costs them maybe 3 dollars to prepare---and then not even making that food all that well on a consistent basis.

People going to a sit down restaurant do so to get food they can't get at a fast food joint and to have some service/atmosphere---food trucks will do nothing to kill that business. Same thing for the people who complain about how a Walmart moving near or into Kensington would kill the market. PURE BS as the people who are paying for "Organic" and "Fair Trade" nonsense are NOT the people who would be shopping in Walmart anyways---and the people shopping in Walmart likely couldn't afford to shop at a hipster shop either. Totally different businesses.

So to treat Food Trucks similarly to restaurants with a 5000 operating license fee is ridiculous. Most people operating these carts are small entrepreneurs who already have to lay out 50-100K plus for a well equipped food truck, spend probably 20,000+ a year minimum in food, and if they don't do everything themselves, have to hire a staff person to help prepare the food, pay for marketing, promotions, etc.

So this is really going to limit who can afford to operate here---and most people will just say BLEEP IT and go and operate in a less restrictive city like Hamilton, Vaughan, Markham, Oshawa, etc.
jameson / May 16, 2014 at 05:54 pm
i believe in new york city businesses pays an employee income tax, so in essence, they aren't paying only a low level fee, there are other taxes involved

so, it's not quite apples to apples when comparing the license fee only
jameson / May 16, 2014 at 05:56 pm
also, if i was a landlord I wouldn't want these food trucks coming in, then I can't charge exorbant rent because my restaurant tenant could just go out and get a truck and license and save themselves 5k in rent a month
philip / May 16, 2014 at 07:27 pm
Maybe the city could organize a food cart programme? They could design the cart and vendors could buy one and use it in the sidewalk. That sounds like a good idea....
Bruce / May 16, 2014 at 08:31 pm
Let my people eat!
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from jameson / May 16, 2014 at 09:09 pm
You're right, it's actually quite complicated in New York:

Point is, there are lessons all around to be learned and applied for how to make this work for all parties.
Hugsnotdrugs / May 17, 2014 at 07:44 am
Good!! Food trucks will do better at special events and on private property anyways... They dont need the cities $5k permit and thats just one more lost revenue stream for the city.. Another TO Fail... Someone get some better city council in there fast!! Were wasting sooo many opportunities as a city to grow and develop our own homegrown talents... This city is so broken!! Maybe I need to run for mayor...
Boring / May 17, 2014 at 10:27 am
This is a joke, all you Food Tuck Fans will have moved onto your new "Trending" "Foodie" bullshit in a few years and this will just be a forgotten memory.
Hicks / May 17, 2014 at 10:28 am
I was just in another city that allowed these trucks to operate and its really not what all you fans think it is, they are ugly, they block entrances to downtown buildings and honestly, its Trended, move on or move to Calgary where you can get a rice pudding out of an old truck outside the bow building.
NotSoBoring replying to a comment from Boring / May 17, 2014 at 10:42 am
What is a Food Tuck?
McRib replying to a comment from Move on / May 17, 2014 at 01:10 pm
you're arguing on the internet, yet telling others to "get a life".

Tasteless / May 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Seriously, have all the food truck lovers actually eaten at these places? It's mostly crap food.

There's no gourmet aspect to them (except in name only). Read/watch the interviews with the people that work in them - everyone is like "I wish I had more space so I could make better food". And prices aren't the cheap grab'n'go lunch options they attempt to allude to by riding the coat tails of the original vendor dudes at City Hall/UofT. "Lunch combo is only $15 for a sandwich and drink!" F that.

FTVs (food truck vendors) need to get over the special treatment they seem to want and grab a dose of reality.
MyOpinion / May 21, 2014 at 09:39 am
Foodtrucks are businesses on wheels. You know those things which contribute to job growth and the economy?

People who are looking for a bite on the run will use food trucks. People looking for a full service dining experience eat at restaurants. Two completely different sets of clientelle.

Seriously, what's wrong with a little competition? It will force businesses (restaurants, pubs, foodtrucks etc) to try harder to please us by improving the dining experience (quality of food, price point, ambience, cleanliness). It's hard to believe what passes for food, or the dining experience these days in this city.

As usual, city council drops the ball. I've been saying all along, they have no head for business. They haven't got a clue what a bustling, thriving city looks like. The extension of our city council, the provincial Liberals, think by announcing a park (boring) and a re-purposed Cinesphere (whoopie) at Ontario Place is somehow going to excite the h*ll out of us!

I'm not a fan of Josh Colle (that boy is growing on me), but this was an idea he hit out of the ball park. It's a crying shame other councillors had to ruin it by over-regulating it. Well this issue isn't over. Change hopefully is around the corner.

I do have some concerns. Just wondering now, how much a restaurant owner pays for a business license and property tax combined for the year (average)? It might be the reason why foodtruck licenses cost so much. I also don't think it would be right if a food truck selling italian food parked out front of an Italian restaurant. While I feel restrictions should be eased, we still need some in place to encourage some form of business ediquette.

OMG! Did pigs just fly? The iSkyscraper told someone else they were RIGHT?

HugsNotDrugs > I adore the username you picked for yourself today.

tnt > lol
Jeff / January 9, 2015 at 03:15 am

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