Food truck owner wants to be considered an essential service in Toronto
While Ontario remains under a state of emergency for at least another few weeks and all non-essential businesses are forced to remain closed, one food truck owner is wondering why restaurants are permitted to operate but food trucks aren't.
Luis Manuel Cordoba is the owner and chef of The Arepa Republic, a business that includes a small restaurant in North York and two food trucks.
Cordoba's restaurant is currently providing curbside pickup and delivery, but both his food trucks have been forced to shutter.
"In terms of the food trucks we have been highly impacted. All events during March and April have been cancelled," he said.
"We have reduced our operational hours by 40 per cent in our restaurant, since the operational logistics are taking longer than usual. As an example, for safety reasons we are picking up our staff directly from their homes to avoid public transportation."
The provincial government released an updated essential businesses list earlier this month after receiving some flack for the lengthy original list.
The updated version states that "businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses," are permitted to remain open, but the businesses listed in this category only include supermarkets and grocery stores, convenience stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, restaurants (takeout, drive-thru and delivery service only) and beer and wine and liquor stores.
Cordoba says the list doesn't make it abundantly clear whether food trucks fall under the restaurant category and are allowed to operate using delivery and pickup services, but he believes they certainly should be.
"Our food trucks are small restaurants on wheels, with the same health and safety standards [as] our restaurant, if not more," he said.
"We have the capability of moving where people need to be served. Also, food trucks can implement the same curbside pickup service as restaurants today. In this current situation, food trucks can be an excellent source of food service for our cities."
Cordoba added that he knows of several other food truck owners that share his sentiment and believe they could be of great service to those who need it during these trying times.
"We can be the food supplier for government and private companies. We also can continue feeding the cities, continuing supporting the backbone of the economy. We are stronger together!" he said.
When the provincial government first released the updated list of essential businesses about two weeks ago, retail cannabis stores had been removed from it and were forced to close.
Businesses then rallied and fought to be considered essential and were eventually re-added with the condition that they only provide curbside pickup and delivery options.
So if the change can be made for cannabis businesses, why not food trucks?
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