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May 28, 2009 12:01 PM

why montreal has no mobile food

Anyone know why Montreal has no mobile street food?

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  1. City by-laws prohibit it and have since at least the Drapeau era.

    1. You can go to St Laurent BLVD this weekend the street is closed off.. There will be a lot of vendors selling food on the street.

      1. The original reasons apparently had to do with hygiene, also I've always heard that Mayor Drapeau thought food carts/trucks were "ugly" (of course isn't this the same mayor who greenlit any number of atrocities, including the Decarie Expressway & The Big O? I digress...)

        Interesting piece on the history & present situation of street food in Montreal by Hound Cédric Sam (sorry Cédric, I can't remember your CH handle)

        10 Replies
        1. re: kpzoo

          There's also a very powerful downtown merchant's lobby, basically mall owners, who would rather have people eating their garbage fast food instead of having a choice. I'm sure our hygiene is the mall owners' #1 priority :)

          1. re: kpzoo

            Hygiene, schmygiene. Give me my street vendors!

            One of the things I love best about NYC is the sheer volume and variety of delicious street foods, anything from hot dogs to souvlaki to ice cream. It's so disappointing that Montreal hasn't seen the light yet.

            1. re: phedre

              Someone told me once that Toronto's hotdog vendors were all part of a money laundering ring .. so maybe it's not so bad we don't have street meat here.

              1. re: Plateaumaman

                Yeah, because there's none of that going on in New York - that's for sure. Just because someone said it doesn't make it so. Jean Drapeau instituted many idiotic rules and regulations, that have since been championed by restauranteurs in the downtown core, who are afraid to lose their businesses. Money talks and City Hall listens.

                1. re: maisonbistro

                  It's a shame, really, that we don't get to enjoy a good dog or a shish taouk or some halal or mexican food during our ho so short summer. I'll be in NYC in a few weeks and really enjoy it. Whatever the reason they give, they (city hall) should rethink it. Then again, we whine that it's all because Jean Drapeau but don't you wish we had a proactive mayor like him instead of the yes man we got now? Maybe it's just the rain, but I'd move to Quebec City for the life the city has while Mtl is standing still. But I digress.

                  1. re: Campofiorin

                    It's not about health, and it's not about Drapeau anymore. That man's been dead for a 100 years, and everyone who's followed him has had ample opportunity to change the rules. He didn't write them in stone.
                    And as for the health argument, oh guess what? We wouldn't exactly be trailblazers, going where no city has gone before, edgy, and out there.

                    I can't think of a major city in the world from Stockholm to Bangkok to Chicago to Vienna (oh god, bratwurst in an impaled bun...!) that doesn't have street food.

                    It's just a disgrace that a bunch of greedy businessmen have so much pull in city hall.

                    1. re: bomobob

                      I say we start a "bomobob for mayor" campaign!! At least we'd have decent street food as a result (and probably a much better mayor than the last few...)

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Not only would we have great street food, but we'd also have astronomical fines for speeding, red lights, stop signs, and people who text while driving.

                          1. re: bomobob

                            Bomobob, sign me up as your campaign manager! Dang the food tin those photos looks awesome...

          2. well would it be profitable? I mean, our summers ARE about 3 to 4 months long.. the rest of the year is sub zero weather, i doubt people will want to sell hot dogs or shish taouk when it's -30 with wind chill. Plus with the snow, it won't be very mobile...

            15 Replies
            1. re: mak2k

              Trucks are heated and unfazed by snow.

              Buying and eating a bag of just-roasted chestnuts from a sidewalk vendor on a snowy day is one of the great Manhattan experiences.

              1. re: carswell

                good point, but i wouldn't want to WAIT in line when it's -30 with wind though

                1. re: carswell

                  You mean COULD be one of the great montreal experiences. Man give me a hot dog with saurkraut and a pretzel with yellow mustard and Montreal turned into Heaven.

                  1. re: carswell

                    That's actually one experience you can partake in here... there's that little choo-choo around McGill College and St. Catherine's that sells roasted chestnuts during the winter :)

                    1. re: afoodyear

                      Small businesses in Montreal have a hard enough time surviving, I for one am glad there is no competition from street vendors. I really don't think we have the volume of sales and the type of economy that can support all that.

                      1. re: afoodyear

                        Ha! Was just off searching for a link to Haldane's article about him. That said, I didn't see him downtown or at the market last winter. Whether that means he's given up or I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it points to an inescapable truth: one occasional chestnut vendor does not a vibrant street food scene make.

                        Imagine the draw downtown if you knew you could get a great krautdog, kielbasa, arepa, bag of roasted nuts, tamale, pad thai, etc., etc., fast and inexpensively while transferring between busses or before popping into the movies or just to tide you over until dinner. Imagine how great it would be on those minus 30 days to warm up with a cup of mulled cider or hot chocolate when skating on one of the outdoor rinks or shopping your way down St-Denis. Imagine the life that such vendors might bring to the moribund stretch of Ste-Catherine between Atwater and Guy.

                        Several times this winter I found myself in the Quartier Latin with 20 minutes to kill and a hole in my stomach to fill. Other than Subway, McDo and the other fast food chains, there was nothing savoury to be had. I might as well have been in the Lachine Industrial Park. That's just stupid and gives the lie to Montreal's claim that it's a user-friendly, food-centric city.

                        1. re: carswell

                          In the absence of real mobile food, I often rely on Une Crêpe? spots while shopping, where you can get great food on the go, made to order. The Mt-Royal location has a pick-up window on the street (almost in front of the Mt-Royal metro), and boy does it smell great!! The crepe comes in a wax paper cone which makes it perfectly portable.There's also another location on St-Denis, just below Sherbrooke, and a third one on St-Viateur W close to J-Mance (never been to that one).
                          They were even featured in the Washington Post!

                    2. re: mak2k

                      There are plenty of people making a full-time year round living doing it in Ottawa, and some of them just have carts, too.

                      1. re: mak2k

                        I don't know what Montreal you live in, but the one I live in is not not subzero 8 months a year. More, like 3-4 months. Besides, hot food on a cold day is always welcomed.

                        1. re: Campofiorin

                          I would totally stick my head out from the underground city in -20C for an Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Mmmmm.

                            1. re: alexthecook

                              looks delicious.
                              laughed out loud at "perkily perfect versions" !!

                              1. re: alexthecook

                                Too bad they don't have a place here...I'd totally keep up with the Japanese lessons for that.

                          1. re: mak2k

                            There are tons or food carts in Winnipeg, which is orders of magnitude less pleasant in the winter and winter lasts a good deal longer. It was snowing there up until very recently, for example. Thus, this reasoning can't be correct.

                            1. re: The Chemist

                              oh wow.. i did not know that! guess i was wrong.

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