Popular food truck will quit if new regulations pass
William 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.