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Food Trucks

Popular food truck will quit if new regulations pass

Posted by Staff / March 13, 2014

feisty jackWilliam Randolph, owner of the popular food truck The Feisty Jack, is threatening to quit if the proposed new Toronto street food regulations pass in their current format. While many of us might have thought the recent developments would be a boon for the local food truck scene, many truck operators have been voicing their concerns and frustrations this week about certain aspects of the long awaited staff report that will be presented to the licensing and standards committee later this month.

In a Toronto Star article published on Monday, Zane Caplansky sounded off on one aspect of the new proposal that would allow local BIAs and City Councillors to essentially prevent food trucks from setting up in a particular neighbourhood if they felt trucks were cannibalizing sales of local businesses. Caplansky called this provision "ridiculous" and suggested in would "gut the entire initiative."

Even Mayor Ford came to the food trucks' defence today, decrying the latest recommendations saying they would not make it easy enough for food trucks to operate in the city. He told the Toronto Star "I think food vending is very important. I don't like how the BIAs or councillors can kick them out of their area at any given time. That...kills it."

Which brings us back to Feisty Jack. In a post to Facebook yesterday, Randolph wrote that the "recent proposals put forth by Metro Licensing and Standards have essentially ignored what every single food truck in the city has been saying and working towards for the past 3 years. They have taken something that is extremely simple and non-complicated and made it into one of the most confusing messes that has ever graced City Hall."

Aside from the BIA provisions, Randolph cited the $5,000 licensing fee as a major issue and characterized it as a "cash grab". He has a point considering similar fees in cities like Austin, TX clock in at only $600. The current licensing fee in Toronto is $1,000 and there seems little justification for the City to raise this by a factor of five.

Toward the end of his Facebook post Randolph writes "Toronto, you have failed me, and the industry we hold so dear. You have killed an industry with micro management, policing before it has ever even had a chance to become something."

"If these new rules should pass, The Feisty Jack will cease all street food operations in the city of Toronto, because it will no longer be cost effective to continue. We have no desire to vend in a park on the outskirts of town, or pay ridiculous $300 parking lot fees, the cost is too great, and the effort is too much....We can no longer continue fighting for a city that has clearly made a point of saying we do not want you, you have no right to exist, you are worthless to us, give us you're money."

If there's a silver lining for fans of the Feisty Jack it's worth noting that Randolph will continue to serve festivals, private and corporate events. He also dropped the news that a brick and mortar location of the restaurant is on its way soon.



Rob / March 13, 2014 at 08:31 am
Rosario-not all restaurant owners are rich fat cats. Your rant is a bit over the top.

Let feisty open a brick and mortar resto and then see how he likes having competing food trucks parked outside his door scooping customers away.

Restaurants have to pay rent, employees, hydro, garbage collection and many other bills that a truck doesn't have.

Maybe the raided fee helps pay for the more frequent trash collection that will be needed to clean up all the disposables that are created and left behind.
Andrew / March 13, 2014 at 08:57 am
Food trucks work fine in Vancouver, Calgary, Portland, NYC etc.

Why does Toronto have to have so many regulations?

Food trucks and restaurants can work together.

Joe / March 13, 2014 at 09:05 am
It seems to me that food truck owners are a bunch of whiners. I own a bricks and mortar business in Downtown Toronto and pay some pretty hefty municipal business taxes through my rent, much more then $5000 a year. But it's the cost of doing business. A $5000 fee makes sure you're serious and committed it also makes sure the city is reimbursed for the added costs of inspecting and regulating these mobile businesses. I don't see a problem. Get a life food truckers.
Terr / March 13, 2014 at 09:10 am
@Rob Food trucks do have to pay similar fees to restaurants, as this is still a missconception. The majority of food trucks pay Rent, Hydro, Gas, Water, Garbage Bin & TMI at the place they park their truck. Also gas @$1.25/l to run their trucks & generators, insurance policies (2-1 for Truck & Liability) and the list goes on and on. A $5000 annual fee is absolutely insane, and detrimental to a small business owner. As remember when people decide to open food trucks they know it will be primarily seasonal (Apr-Oct).
FOH MON / March 13, 2014 at 09:36 am
Chefs are whiners. Chef owners are even worse.
Randominaty / March 13, 2014 at 09:44 am
Is that a threat from the Feisty Jack? Goodbye then, there are tons of other food trucks that will continue to work with the city on food truck policies.
jameson / March 13, 2014 at 10:06 am
I've always wondered how other cities that have established downtown neighborhoods deal with the bricks and mortar operations vs. mobile business issue...

I mean, food trucks were created because of a lack of restaurants in American suburban cities. These restauranteurs knew they couldn't successfully operate a full business. We don't have that issue here, hence the never ending battle.

I wonder what they do in European cities? And quite frankly, whoever is paying more taxes should dictate what happens.
jay d / March 13, 2014 at 10:07 am
If your brick and mortar restaurant can't offer anything more than a food truck can then I would suggest that you deserve to be put out of business. Competition benefits good operators and's the weak that fear it.
Tony / March 13, 2014 at 10:08 am
Competition is good for everyone!!
jameson / March 13, 2014 at 10:27 am
Good competition means playing by the same rules.

If one operator is paying more taxes and has more overhead...One uses public streets and the other uses private land?

Not the same rules at all.
mb replying to a comment from jay d / March 13, 2014 at 10:30 am
BOOM. This right here. If you're so afraid of your resto being put out of business due to food trucks, maybe you should be more focused on improving the quality of your product!
E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from jay d / March 13, 2014 at 10:58 am
"If your brick and mortar restaurant can't offer anything more than a food truck can then I would suggest that you deserve to be put out of business."

I don't know for certain, but I think it's a whole lot more complicated for a restaurant to establish an open-air patio out front ... than it would be for a food truck to park out front and start picking off customers. I doubt there's a level playing field at all.

Jay d replying to a comment from jameson / March 13, 2014 at 11:04 am
OK, same rules...Food trucks will pay all the same fees and taxes as restaurants...However, restaurants shall now require their customers to eat outside, can no longer serve alcohol, and must do all food prep and storage in a large closet size area.
jay d replying to a comment from E. Toby Coke / March 13, 2014 at 11:07 am
A side walk bench is not equal to a patio.
905'er / March 13, 2014 at 11:30 am
Why is this getting so much exposure? Has everything at City Hall been solved and there is nothing left to do? Let's put pressure on getting the priorities straight and not trying to define the city by food trucks.
Jack replying to a comment from Randominaty / March 13, 2014 at 11:32 am
Ragequitting is the new emotion for millennials.
Mike / March 13, 2014 at 11:38 am
Competition is good. Restaurant owners are scared of food trucks b/c it'll take away some of their customers. Well, that means restaurants should step up their game to COMPETE for my hard earned money. Why the hell should I eat at your restaurant if you're not offering anything better than a food truck, and vice versa. It works both ways. I don't eat at every food truck (even at those food truck only events), so you gotta impress me with your menu, quality of food and overall value.
Calendar / March 13, 2014 at 11:40 am
Food trucks are not "street food". They are small kitchens on wheels, and in most cases just extensions of existing restaurants. So in essence no different than buying take out. Food carts are interesting, but not big hulking food trucks sucking up tons of electricity. The whole trend is greatly overrated in my books. If one of them wants to quit, then goodbye. I don't recall seeing them in other cities like London, Paris or Manhattan that Canadians seem to dote on for being "world class". Maybe out in the burbs but not in central areas. Or has Vancouver somehow become our role model now?
Larry / March 13, 2014 at 11:47 am
*your money
mccurley / March 13, 2014 at 11:50 am
Food trucks idle dirty diesel trucks and run noisy propane generators on the streets for hours. Waste water goes directly into the sewer. All this for a deep fried kimchi cupcake? What about the air we all breathe and the water we all drink? Bye bye Fiesty Jack - One less old dirty diesel fast food truck on the streets of Toronto the better, there will be plenty of others....relax food freaks
The Feisty replying to a comment from Joe / March 13, 2014 at 11:52 am
Lovely comments, but there is no rageful quitting happpening, simply a calculation of the books. Our private and special event business is booming, but the truck was designed for the street and that's a major component in any food trucks business model.

As I am a fourth generation restauranteur I am well aware of the risks and challenges of operating a brick and mortar, if you are a restaurant owner and you fear food trucks then stop cutting corners and provide a product that people want to purchase, the average food truck is charging anywhere between $7-$10 for a meal, if you cant compete with that whilst we're parked 25m-50m away then you need to step it up.

The question here is not whether you like food trucks, its identifying the role they play in Toronto, they are one aspect of creating a vibrant street culture, improving tourism and giving the people of Toronto more choice, that choice is being taken away from people through micromanagement and policing.

This culture of street food exists everywhere in the world and the people of these places hold it sacred, If Toronto wants so desperately to be considered world class, prove it.
tom / March 13, 2014 at 11:53 am
A bit unrelated, maybe, but I would welcome food trucks visiting all the office parks where restaurants are thin on the ground. Would provide a much-welcomed change to workers there and offer new customers to truck operators.

Look at Egliton & Don Mills, for example. Lots of offices, very few restaurants and certainly no food court.

Couldn't this be a middle ground between trucks providing direct competition to an already restaurant-dense downtown and the "park in the outskirts" that no one wants to go to?
Phil replying to a comment from Rosario Martinez / March 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I agree. Both restos and trucks provide different foods for different people. The American food trucks don't seem to have problems. Listen up, Toronto City Council, food trucks as well as restos can and will work side by side. You must immediately clear this up not waiting until summer -June to September??, outragious. Remember this kiddies, it's an election year and most of you are only coasting. Clear it up or you'll need another job.
shawn / March 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm
It's another ridiculous cash grab courtesy of Rob Ford's Toronto.
toronto dude replying to a comment from tom / March 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm
i think this is by far the best solution.

instead of giving unfair low-cost competitive advantage to polluting food trucks downtown...

have them go out to the massive office parks in markham, scarborough, north york etc where the scant choices available require a drive in a car....this where the mobility of a food truck is an asset and won't infringe directly on existing businesses. maybe after servicing this business for 5 years, you can apply for a downtown special licence.

now there's some food for thought.....
Calendar / March 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm
I'm not opposed to food trucks, just mystified about the holy reverence for them. Once again, great big idling diesel trucks are not street food in my books. They are extensions of restaurants. The pulled pork sandwich you buy at a truck is exactly the same as the pulled pork sandwich you sit down to eat in the restaurant. I enjoy little food carts when I travel around the world, but these trucks don't remind me of that.
Badbhoy / March 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm
I am sure there ia some middle ground here. $5000 does seem high but there should be some sort of licence to demonstrate committment and cover some of the additional strains on the city (polution, garbage collection etc).

And while the restaurants and BIAs should not have carte blanche veto over who is in their neighbourhoods, there should be some recourse if a food truck is parking in front of my resto during peak lunch hours undercutting my business and the hightailing it out of there at 3pm to park in front of the Rogers Centre and scoop up the crowd after the Jays game. See the mobility is a huge advantage and it should treated as such.

Setting guidelines and a fee structure is not "micromanaging" it is ensuring a fair playing field so all business can thrive.

Your Austin comparison is not a good one. Toronto is not Austin and i am sure costs for all types of business vary between the two cities.

Food truck culture grew from mid-sized American cities where there was a need for lunch options for business workers in the downtown core. At the same time many American city centres are ghost towns after 5pm so brick and mortar restos are not a viable option.

Toronto on the other hand has a vibrant downtown core and established restaurant culture. This should be protected even as food trucks shoud be allowed to enter the market.
martin givens replying to a comment from The Feisty / March 13, 2014 at 01:00 pm
I wish someone could explain to me, How and why are all those really really crappy shitty lunch trucks allowed to stay infront of city hall and the convention center. They are truly disgusting!
I'd rather see a bunch of good trucks out there not the crappy lunch trucks that I think must be owned by the city because I for the life of me don't understand the double standered here. can somebody explain it to me. And why can ice cream trucks patrol my hood and every hood in toronto when ever they want at any time of day? it's so bizzar to me. What a double standered!!!
martin givens replying to a comment from The Feisty / March 13, 2014 at 01:00 pm
sorry about the shit spelling
CW / March 13, 2014 at 01:21 pm
Why do food vendors get special treatment? If I want to start selling socks or raw meat I should be able to setup shop outside the Eaton Center or at the corner of Yonge and Bloor.

Bloor should be lined with people selling their flea market wares.
Mike / March 13, 2014 at 01:25 pm
Trucks in front of city hall have metro licenses that are grandfathered.

No truck is left idling diesel.

Small carts should have the right to exist, however due to health restrictions food trucks are the north american standard as they present a safer way of cooking food. Fresh waster, sinks and fire suppression. You might be able to cook a chicken on an exposed spit in India, in Toronto you must abide by health regulations, which food trucks spend thousands of dollars to do.
jd83 / March 13, 2014 at 01:30 pm

The fee seems way too high. It should be more around $500-1000.

And one of the few rules should be no trucks within 50 metres of another restaurant and 100 metres if it's the same type of food. So no taco trucks within 100 meters of a Mexican restaurant. That and all health and safety rules must be maintained.

I would love to see the city get behind more of those shipping container locations that offer people who want to start small businesses the ability to get it off the ground. The ones at Scadding Court Community Centre are amazing. It's just too bad the foot traffic for that section of Dundas is not that high. But such a great program...
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from mccurley / March 13, 2014 at 02:04 pm
"Waste water goes directly into the sewer"

Gosh, we would NEVER want waste water to go where it is supposed to go, eh?
jameson / March 13, 2014 at 02:07 pm
DC has the best shipping container marketplace by the baseball diamond

It's pretty amazing
cleanwater replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / March 13, 2014 at 03:22 pm
"The issue of any wastewater being discharged to the storm sewer is of concern to Toronto Water" Totally illegal - huge fine. Ever seen a restaurant with a hose down the sewer - didn't think so...
cleanair replying to a comment from Mike / March 13, 2014 at 03:35 pm
Go check out Randy's Roti from Brampton spewing dirty diesel exhaust in downtown Toronto directly on the sidewalk, idling their old truck while running a huge generator at the same time. Enjoy your snack....
Sandor / March 13, 2014 at 06:25 pm
Restaurants shouldn't shit their pants about food drunks.

I'm not about to take a first date to dinner at a food truck.
David Pylyp / March 13, 2014 at 10:09 pm
Food Truck could have helped put some cachet into our streets! A little panache! a twitteratti following!

But NAH We need to kill stuff with regulations and pour Millions into Bicycles.

Prairie Girl / March 13, 2014 at 10:36 pm
Trucks complaining about $5,000 fee? If you own any business in the city where you rent retail commercial space you have to pay rent + TMI = Taxes, Maintenance and Insurance.

Plus, do these food trucks contribute to the local community? No.
Hoshi / March 13, 2014 at 10:42 pm
Complaining about a $5000 licence fee? Wow. Boo hoo. Imagine all of the fees involved in setting up a REAL restaurant.
In a drunken stupor / March 14, 2014 at 08:10 am
Hopefully Steak Queen gets a food truck. They could park it at city hall so me and my Jamaican homies can grab a bite in between smoking crack and chugging vodka. Burp!
Hungry man / March 14, 2014 at 08:37 am
Hit the road jack, and don't come back!
Tony / March 14, 2014 at 10:09 am
Shut em all down. I got sick eating from these trucks. No one washes their hands, they have no cooking experience and are a danger to the citizens of Toronto. Toronto health needs to shut them down. Lets call diamond and diamond and launch a massive class action, because there's nothing stronger than a diamond.
But seriously I got sick eating from one of these so called gourmet trucks. They are NOT street food, just overpriced fads on wheels trying to fake the funk. Support your local restaurants...
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Tony / March 14, 2014 at 01:10 pm
And therein lies the rub; I was arguing about this a while back either here or at Torontoist, saying that these trucks probably aren't properly scrutinized, and now, from the mouth of another citizen of Toronto, we have it. We don't need a $5000 fee for the trucks to operate, or any micromanagement from the City as to health and safety so that people don't get poisoned? Bullshit. Looks like we do have to do this (still) in order to keep things like this from happening, and we'd better keep on our toes to ensure that people don't get sick from eating street food.

As for what Badbhoy has said; I agree 100%. We shouldn't have to be copying other North American cities in order to be cool, we should be ourselves. If we don't have the same prerequsites they do that require street trucks (except for businesses that need food trucks like construction sites, factories, and the like) then why the frack do we have to have them? Just to be hip in the eyes of some other city from the U.S.? Sorry, but we should be what WE are; a city that doesn't have a downtown that shuts down after 5:00, but is vibrant. Let's enjoy our differences from other cities, for a change.
Vern / March 15, 2014 at 09:14 am
Yo DavidPylyp these food trucks are already on our streets and have been for years. Any cachet or panache that they're going to bring to our streets has already been brought, how you like it? As I look out my window I see a street full of food truck cachet.
Little Fury replying to a comment from Tony / March 18, 2014 at 10:36 am
I got food poisoning from a brick and mortar restaurant. We should shut those down too. Idjit.
O.Chow replying to a comment from martin givens / March 18, 2014 at 11:47 am
Marins Givens...........go back to scholl and learn how to spel and please vote for me...........i will straiten all this out in Octtober
O.Chow replying to a comment from David Pylyp / March 18, 2014 at 11:51 am
David Pylyp You are everything that is wrong with for me
Tom / April 2, 2014 at 05:15 pm
Food Trucks, trailers are good news. I own one, but to at be (fare) we kinda of are forgetting about the very simple fact, Restaurants pay property taxes, could be inclusive of rent or extra. But they Pay!

Most food trucks avoid some Tax collected. Simple fact, we deal mostly Cash.

Our investment is about $130,000.00 for new equipment. $85,000 used. A fairly good Restaurant in Toronto will set you back $1,000,000 or more.

Sure license the Trucks, make them pay $5,000.00 for a license yearly, but set them somewhat away from Food Restaurants.

Beeches areas, Parks et.

Plaggle / April 3, 2014 at 08:00 pm
Leave Toronto and come North to Markham, Newmarket or Georgina :)
Other Cities: Montreal