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Prairie Food Trucks - A Possibility?

A late night encounter with some Cabernet and Food Network Canada got me thinking about the recent trend in food trucks - is this something that's feasible year-round in the cold climate of the Canadian prairies? Is it a viable business venture? I don't know if any food trucks in Winnipeg that follow the spirit of the current trend, although there are of course some hamburger/hot dog places.

Should I start a Bannock Buggy?

What does everyone think? Do you have food trucks in your prairie city?


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  1. well, there's rocky's burger bus in calgary, does that count? The calgary cart scene is pretty poor.

    on a more serious note, there's food & chip trucks in eastern canada and plenty of food carts in the NE states, and their weather can be just as depressing as ours so it's hardly a climate thing. From what I understand it's more of a city licensing thing. If you really want to foster an environment for food carts, cities have to be more open to providing the space for them at a reasonable cost. I think certain health regulations make it difficult for carts as well, so those would need to be relaxed. contact your mayer/alderman?

    3 Replies
    1. re: marcopolo

      Good point about the weather in Eastern Canada, although I still struggle to see people standing outside to eat in the middle of winter - perhaps if you could park close enough to some major public buildings or office buildings and people had the possibility of refuge from the cold it would work out better...
      Or what about a drive-up food cart?

      1. re: Zollipop

        I have also been day dreaming about this idea a lot recently. A co-worker of mine makes incredibly good Indian food; I have been trying to convince him to open a restaurant for some time.
        Then it hit me he should buy a food truck, if he went to all the construction sites up in Airdrie I’m sure he would make a killing, I can’t believe no one has done it already

    2. In Edmonton we have increasingly more... but they aren't open year-round. Even the hot dog places like Fat Franks aren't open year round except for a permanent spot in a downtown mall food court.

      2 Replies
      1. re: anonymoose

        The Fat Franks in Commerce Place Food Court shut down last year - they couldn't make it work indoors (my guess is the terrible customer service couldn't overcome the delicious dogs and fries).

        On another note though, we enjoyed the 'Eva Sweet' Belgian waffle truck parked downtown all last summer, so yes we've seen new and increasingly more options. Hopefully this will continue.

        1. re: MrsCris

          I haven't been in that food court for a couple of years, so thank you for the update. The service at that location certainly wasn't great.

        1. Well, for those who don't know there will be a new entry into Calgary with Jojo's BBQ...I've been following her on facebook and she says her "Chariot of Smoke" will be parked at BBQ's Galore on Edmonton Trail. She's got a custom smoker in her converted motorhome!!!

          I really hope she opens some doors for other food trucks. I would love to see us embrace this as a city, even if it is a seasonal phenom!

          Here's her website, I imagine folks who've been in Calgary longer might know her? She worked for the Palomino?


          1 Reply
          1. re: messier

            Nice find! I can't wait to try this out. Also, I completely agree with you about opening doors for other food trucks. There's no reason we can't make it work here in Calgary.

          2. Well, Zolli, it looks our dreams of a plethora of mobile eateries to choose from will never come to fruition within Winnipeg.....


            1 Reply
            1. re: Allegra_K

              Three cheers to Kives for bringing this issue to light.

            2. Alley Burger Food Truck coming soon!
              The Alley Burger (made famous by the owners of Charcut)

              check out link http://www.newsbureau.ca/Content.aspx...

              4 Replies
              1. re: scholasticgirl

                This is awesome...it can't get started soon enough. Can't wait.

                1. re: scholasticgirl

                  Yay for Alleyburgers! Though I haven't had the chance to try one yet, it's hard to get into the lineup early enough.

                  One of my friends also alerted me to an upcoming PerogieMobile, also scheduled to launch this summer in Calgary: http://www.facebook.com/perogyboyz

                  1. re: scholasticgirl

                    My first trip to Alley Burger came on Saturday when they opened during the Prairie Regional Barista Competition at Fratello. The line was admittedly slow going and chaotic. The organizers closed off the parking area to the public until the volunteers/judges/participants/onlookers were served. The public had to form their own line outside the gates. Yikes.

                    Regardless, we were fortunate enough to be about twelfth in line with the judges so we were served our Original Alley Burger and small fries around 1:30. The burger was better than I expected and I'm keen to try their Angus Burger. The fries were hot, crisp, and infused with garlic, or so it seemed to me. Totally yum.

                    Fiasco Gelato was parked immediately next to Alley Burger (again "inside" the gates), and offered three flavours: Chocolate Shavings, Strawberry Creme, and Blackberries and Cream. I did a chocolate/blackberry combo and thought both to be gorgeous. Especially while waiting for Alley Burger to work through their line in the hot sun. Perhaps the gelato isn't as sinful as GelatoParadiso (LA) which we've become accustomed to, but certainly worth frequenting!

                    I just felt sorry for the longgggg line outside the gate, they likely wondered whether they would ever be served, and what on earth would be left to eat once the first HUGE line was served.

                    1. re: nutellaluvr

                      I checked out the Alley Burger truck last night. It really was kind of a gong show. Obviously they still have logistical things to work out. They claimed it was their 'first time out with the truck' but I see now, that's not completely true. They tweeted that they'd be in a parking lot downtown from 7-11. We arrived about 7:15 and were about 60th in line. They actually never opened until about 7:45. It was hot standing out in the sun on the cement. I wished I had brought a foldable chair and some water and made it a party! My bad.. lesson learned. We actually considered leaving a few times but it just smelled so good that we decided to stay. Finally at about 8:45 we got to order. Connie from Charcut was taking orders and someone else doing cash. They were pretty fast, but the actual food service timing was off. We ordered two Truck Burgers (beef), a poutine and a small fries. First our fries came, then we waited five more minutes and then the burgers came, then another 5 minutes the poutine came out. By then the first fries were cold. People were all crowded around waiting for this mish-mash of orders coming out. Some people were eating, while their companions who ordered at the same time, were waiting. Some people were getting their food, although they ordered after we did. Go figure?! There was a bit of a traffic jam with people trying to put their condiments on, where it was set up, right in front of where you order. Moving that to behind the truck or further away from the ordering area would be better.

                      The burgers were awesome! So beefy and juicy! I love the piri piri aioli. And of course, the poutine was excellent all around . I have no complaints about the food at all. I will definately go again when/ if I see them somewhere, and there aren't 60 other people there. I don't mind waiting but no burger is worth an hour and half of my time! I'm sure they will work through all these kinks in no time! Looking forward to seeing them do well.

                      ps - people were taking pictures of Connie like crazy. She just carried on. I don't think she knows she's celebrity?!?

                  2. August 11th will be the official launch of The Food Truck Pilot Project. YYC Food Trucks has teamed up with The City of Calgary, Tourism Calgary and The Downtown Calgary Association, to launch the first-ever food truck festival in the city. The event, "YYC Taste The Trucks" will be held on August 11th from 11:00 A.M to 3:00 P.M on Stephen Ave in the Convention Centre Block (100E Stephen Ave).

                    This event will be a showcase for the general public and offer an opportunity for interested parties to experience the fine food and fabulous trucks.

                    The event is family-friendly and admission is free. The food trucks will be offering their new regular menu at street-friendly prices. The participating trucks are: Fiasco Gelato, Perogy Boyz, Alley Burger, Fries & Dolls, Pimentos Mobile Pizzeria, Jojo’s BBQ, Los Compadres Mexican, and perhaps one more.


                    24 Replies
                    1. re: hsk

                      Huh. I KNEW there was a Mexican food truck in town. I'm not crazy! :)

                      1. re: hsk

                        does anyone else find it comical that the majority of these vendors are simply existing restaurants/shops - with the only difference being that they are serving out of a truck? I mean C'MON, talk about FAKE SELLOUT TRENDY BS. "Street food" is one thing, but when you start having large restaurants riding this trend for promotional purposes, it defeats the whole point of food truck in the first place. If I want a silly $26 burger, i'll go to Charcut. If I want a truck burger, I'll go to Rocky's... see what I mean?

                        1. re: nonlinear

                          Not really. The Alley burgers will not be $26.00 or even close to that (when I was at Charcut the burger came to $13.00 not sure where you get $26.00?) Most of the trucks mentioned above are original food trucks with the exception of Alley Burger and Fiasco. Some of the best and most well known Food trucks in LA and Portland are extensions of past and currnet restaurant ideas so really I have no idea what you mean by your post.

                          1. re: nonlinear

                            Non, so are some in Vancouver, where I tried a half dozen different trucks, and was really pleased with each one. The best chicken sandwich I ever had came from a "restaurant" truck. It was the only thing they sold, for about $7 and they sold out every day by about 2:30-3. The truck couldn't hold any more inventory.

                            1. re: nonlinear

                              Not surprising. This is what I expected.

                              Fact is, it costs too much to run of these in winter here. Trucks would go through propane like water for heating. So they need another base of operations for income during the cold months.

                              1. re: Shazam

                                "Fact is, it costs too much to run of these in winter here"

                                I disagree. the cost difference is negligible. The availability of spots to park and run the trucks is the issue. If the city could dedicate a few designated spots around downtown, preferably right in front of large downtown towers, I'm sure trucks would have no issue operating year round.

                                1. re: marcopolo


                                  Have you ever heated a truck using propane when it's -25C out?

                                  1. re: Shazam

                                    are you really gonna need more heat when you've got a flat top and fryer going?

                                    1. re: marcopolo

                                      Yes, you need to keep the people inside warm, and you need to run refrigeration, and you need to keep the entire cooking area above zero at least to keep it actually working

                                      But hey, don't take my word for it. Go ask the guy that runs Bubba Louie's - he couldn't operate in winter because his entire truck froze over. And that's with dual propane heaters.

                              2. re: nonlinear

                                I don't really agree... a lot of restaurants, particularly outside the core, don't serve lunch. This way they could, in a location that attracts a lot of people. The Calgary restaurant scene is pretty competitive so why not?

                                1. re: AriaDream

                                  What? What restaurants don't serve lunch???

                                  1. re: Shazam

                                    True. Just like some downtown food spots don't open weekends for lunch, or not at all on weekends.

                                    1. re: Shazam

                                      Plenty outside the core don't. I don't have specific names but I know from searching when I was planning to go shopping. :) And as Bill says, ones in the core are almost never open for lunch on weekends. A few aren't open for supper on Sundays. I discovered that the hard way when my sister and I had an impulse to see if Rush could fit us in and forgot to check if they were even open.

                                      1. re: AriaDream

                                        Well, I don't know how I can take you seriously when:

                                        1) I go to places for food outside the core for lunch and dinner.
                                        2) You can't name any places.

                                        1. re: Shazam

                                          "2) You can't name any places"
                                          Off the top of my head (OK I had to look up the opening times)
                                          Muse - opens @ 5PM - only serves dinner
                                          Chef's Table -serves breakfast 7-10AM and dinner starts @ 5:30PM
                                          Winebar Kensington - opens @ 3PM or 4PM depending on the day
                                          Anju - opens @ 5PM

                                          Winebar Kensington
                                          1131 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary, AB T2N, CA

                                          1. re: cancowboy

                                            That's nice. Ariadream was referring to places *outside* the inner city.

                                            Sorry, I wasn't specific enough in my previous post. I was referring to places outside the core. I realize places downtown have screwy hours.

                                            1. re: Shazam

                                              Bear's Den - opens at 5PM

                                              And definitely outside the "core".

                                              Bolero - opens at 5P

                                  1. re: hsk

                                    Sweet! I am so going, thank you. :)

                                    1. re: hsk

                                      Early reviews of today's Taste the Trucks are in and they're not good. 90+min waits and some people didn't get food.

                                      1. re: maplesugar

                                        I was going to meet a friend down there at noon. She went early (11:05) and called to tell me that we were looking at 90 minutes or longer. Guess I will wait for next time.

                                        1. re: katidyd

                                          We went there early (around 11:20) and they were already serving food. We picked the shortest line which was for JoJo's BBQ. Nice pulled pork with coleslaw. A little small for $6 though. Then we lined up for Fries at Fries'n'Dolls (or is it Dolls'n'Fries?) and that was very slow. Ok fries though.
                                          AlleyBurger line up was insane! It already went around the corner of the block when we got there.

                                          1. re: josey124

                                            Went about 12:30, left at 12:31. Would have stayed if there was a breakfast truck as we would have made it to the front of a line by about 6am. 8th was incredibly crowded with a powerful air of disappointment.

                                            Went to Below Deck for halibut po' boy and donair po' boy. Both ok, but the fries and rings were excellent, both made from scratch. No lineups either but they were busy. All staff very friendly.

                                            For you East Coasters they have a fried baloney on white.

                                        2. re: maplesugar

                                          Yes I went around 1:45 thinking it might be less busy. Nope. Perogy boyz were sold out everyone else had a line that looked like a very long time. Looked interesting but I wonder how sustainable the concept is. I'm sure nobody at all will line up in the winter (not for any length of time anyway) so it's likely a "4 months per year and maybe the odd chinook" business plan, at least in Calgary.

                                      2. Looks like the mayor is getting in on the action

                                        "Starting on August 11, 2011, The City of Calgary, along with our food truck entrepreneurs and various business revitalization zone (BRZ) partners, is launching the Food Truck Pilot project that will bring food trucks to our streets"


                                        1. We've seen some great food trucks surface in Edmonton - Eva Sweet Waffles as MrsCris mentioned has 3 vehicles, Molly's Eats moves around Farmers' Markets (great bacon brisket sandwich and empanadas), recently tried Drift (mmm pork belly sandwich), Filistix and Nomad (have yet to try them).

                                          Molly's and Drift recently had a weekend lunch at Victoria Park so I was able to try them... great additions to Edmonton.