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Montreal to join rest of world and allow street food soon?

I never thought I'd see the day, but could it be that Montreal city council has come to its senses and is about to ditch that old Drapeau-era law banning the sale of street food?


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    1. Great, so we'll have a bunch of hot dog carts lining the city. I'm probably in the minority on here who doesn't want these carts, I'm sure there will be some original ideas and some noteworthy grub but I think this will represent a small percentage of the carts.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ios94

        I'd be really surprised if hot-dog carts, or any carts for that matter, were part of the plan. People lobbying for this legislation want to allow food trucks.

        1. re: SnackHappy

          So I guess it's going to be a bunch of hot dog "trucks". lol
          Regulating what type of food can be sold in these trucks is draconian, you allow food trucks or you don't. Who is to say that you can sell the food trend du jour but not steamies, stupid IMO.

          1. re: ios94

            AFAIC, they should be allowed to sell whatever they want wherever they want as long as they pass food safety inspections. They idea of making this some sort of chi-chi foodie thing irritates the hell out of me. Entrepreneurs are always against regulations and in favour of open markets until it starts to threaten their own business.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              And what's the point of having a crappy hot-dog on the street when you can have one at every fast-food place for take-out in 2 minutes?

              1. re: Glaff

                The point is to allow competition, to allow people who don't have the means to open a proper restaurant to start micro-businesses. The point is to bring in a bit of diversity to the Montreal food scene. The point is to not hand the whole thing over to a restaurant industry that didn't even want street food to begin with.

      2. Will they allow me to set up shop with a whole hog like the article's picture?
        I think not.
        I guess hot dogs and maybe pretzels might be a good start....

        1. It's actually Camillien Houde who banned them in 1947, not Drapeau (who became mayor for the first time in 1954). And they were banned because at the time they were not sanitary, they didn't pay business taxes, they caused traffic jams, and the fry carts would dump their used oil on the street once they were done.

          1. sweet! i just saw this posted online and came here to share it ;)

            who knows what they'll start with, but i hope we get some interesting food.

            1. I hope it's not all going to be overpriced hipster trash

              4 Replies
              1. re: Ghostquatre

                in montreal? noooo

                I just hope that the hoops to jump through aren't so small that only an elite few could participate. I really hope that new and recent immigrants will have an opportunity to join the biz. my pessimistic side believes that street food will be very limited to a few areas. Toronto tried that and it was a costly disaster.

                1. re: catroast

                  I agree and am pessiimistic myself - its likely that whatever makes street food great will be regulated right out.

                  1. re: porker

                    Also, the city has only promised to review its policy. I am curious as to the restaurant association's anti-food truck demographic. I can't imagine any successful restauranteur being overly concerned. I would think that the most successful would be the most interested in participating given the popularity and success of food trucks in other cities as well as the new advertising space food trucks would open. Is it mostly chain conglomerates that are opposed? It would be surprising if national or international chains were opposed considering they do well in other cities with food trucks. It must be the Quebec chains.

                    1. re: catroast

                      I would actually think that the most vocal entities against food trucks would be major commercial landlords. Nothing would drive down rent faster than having someone compete with your tenant rent-free in virtually the same place.

                      Also, given the mobile nature of food trucks, you wouldn't necessarily know at any point what your location is will be worth in terms of rent in the short-term future. For example, let's say your tenant leaves because there is a food truck outside that drives them out of business. You realise that you need to lower your rent for the next tenant and do so. However, three months into the new lease, the food trucks moves on to a better location and, suddenly, your tenant is underpaying for your location and, until end of the lease, there is nothing you can do.

                      I could see this uncertainty creating a major issue for landlords . . . or maybe this is just my lawyer brain working overtime.

              2. I'm not holding my breath. The downtown merchants assn has had city hall in their pockets for years. The last thing they want is for people to have choices. I fear we will continue to be the only major city on Earth without street food.
                I hope I'm wrong.

                1. I really don't get this obsessive fascination with the food truck trend. If it's really that great why do 90% of food carts and trucks in NY suck and pretty much serve the same crap. I really don't think it'll improve and make for better food choices in the city... just more of the same. And we live in Montreal... not NY or Vancouver... our outdoor eating season is pretty damn short.
                  Maybe the city can delegate an area where several food trucks can congregate and maybe supply picnic tables so people can sit and eat.... Oh, right.... that's a food court and every dumbass mall has one.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chickenbruiser

                    Food carts are especially wonderful when you are a tourist on a tight schedule, budget and travelling with young children. So nice to just walk up to a cart easily, take your items to a park, relax, let the kids run around, enjoy the scenery, etc. Wonderful and the season is not that short, please. Might I add, it's also nice for "locals" to feel like they are on a nice, casual holiday.

                    1. re: eatwell

                      Most of those parks you want to eat in have restaurants located around them.

                      1. re: eatwell

                        I agree with eatwell. I'd rather pick something up from a food truck and walk over to a park to enjoy it.

                    2. This sucks. The trucks will show up for festivals/long weekends/special events taking business from the restos that are open all year serving their hoods forcing some of these places to close.

                      Montreal is such a great city for small restaurants this will kill more then a few of them.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: GordGanjini

                        there are small restaurants in every city with food trucks

                        the only restaurants that feel the pinch are the terrible ones

                        quite frankly i couldn't care less if a few awful lebanese restaurants shut down.

                        1. re: GordGanjini

                          I don't think more than a few small restaurants will close because of food trucks; its a different clientele. Some that do close (as hinted by catroast) perhaps are the ones who are teetering on closing anyway.

                          If a food truck sells ice cream, is Dairy Queen gonna shut down?

                          I did run a small restaurant at one time. Hot dog carts and a coupla trucks did arrive in my neighborhood, but they did not affect my business.

                          I'm hoping that its not just a food truck thing, but rather a street-food movement. I'm thinking theres lots of talent and ethnic foodstuffs out there, but the cost of running a small restaurant is prohibitive, not allowing these guys to showcase their potential wares. Running a food stall or stand or cart or food truck might be economically viable for the small guy.
                          Theres a woman on Church Street in Burlington Vermont just selling Chinese Dumplings, another cart selling popcorn, etc etc etc
                          Seemingly in harmony with the restaurants next door and without the high overhead.

                          1. re: porker

                            From the looks of it, and from reading the letter Normand Laprise wrote in La Presse, it's lining up to be an elitist, over-regulated fiasco. If Laprise got his way, only established and "reputable" restaurants would be allowed to run food trucks and only in parks. Sounds dreadful. Others like Marie-Claude Lortie seem to share a similarly elitist attitude.

                            I, for one, would like to see some falafel, kebab and pretzel carts along with the fancy taco, pulled-pork and ostrich sandwich trucks, but I really doubt it's going to happen.

                            1. re: porker

                              Dairy Queen is a small restaurant? Montreal is compared to Burlington? Your analogies are not very good.

                              A small soft serve place might well shut down if there is a truck outside that does not have to pay property tax or provide washrooms (thus the lower overhead) and can simply show up on the best days of the year for say a steet fair in Verdun or a festival in a park in Pointe-St-Charles while the permanent places in those areas need those days to survive the fall/winter/spring.

                              1. re: GordGanjini

                                And what if a familiar franchise moves next door to the hypothetical ice cream shop and has the weight of brand recognition and corporate marketing behind it? Fairness has its limits. Perhaps the mom and pop ice cream shop would be encouraged to stop selling Nestle products....

                                1. re: GordGanjini

                                  Who says the permanent places can't "compete" as well: open a small food stall offering different, street-oriented stuff adjacent to their place?
                                  The St. Laurent street festival had lotsa street food places (although mostly stand after stand of bifana or soy noodle....but there was some interesting stuff if you looked hard enough) all put out by the stores/restos/bars themselves.

                                  I think most of our arguments and points of view are a waste of bandwidth anyway as I feel SnackHappy's got it right: "elitist, over-regulated fiasco" which will miss the point of street food entirely.
                                  Me, I'd like to see Mexican cochinita tortas or hand stretched tortillas or simple charcoal skewers etc etc etc. "but I really doubt it's going to happen."

                            2. Interesting CBC Radio discussion with three local food bloggers about the potential for street food in Montreal.


                              1. some trucks are in the school yard on de l'epee above laurier right now

                                1. In many cities, food trucks serve a lot of rubbish in many cases (think La Belle on Wheels), but some definitely rise above. CHeck out the Vendies (US awards for the best of the best).

                                  Bud of mine just sent me a shot of my Manahattan fave, my main man O'Neil of the Jamaican Dutchy. The goat, jerk, etc. would shame our local Carribean joints. All out of a cube truck.

                                  PS - at the height cheek, their permit parks them right smack in front of the Le Bernardin. Wonder if Eric Ripert indulges?


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mattlane

                                    Or is poor Eric's business being crushed by the goat guy?

                                    1. re: porker

                                      I'd like to think their respective clientele's can figure it out...


                                  2. Toronto is expanding street food to include healthy foods such as salads, cut up fruit etc--expecting to appeal to other groups who are not keen on hot dogs sausages. but still some think not wideenough, corn on the cob sounds good

                                    Pre-packaged cut fruits and vegetables using only vinaigrette dips
                                    Whole fruits and vegetables, including corn on the cob
                                    Pre-packaged fruit salad
                                    Bagels with individual serving containers of butter, margarine, peanut butter or jam
                                    Pre-packaged nuts and seeds
                                    Pre-packaged salads containing only vegetables and/or fruits with all dressings to be pre-packaged and not requiring refrigeration
                                    Pre-packaged Tabbouleh salad and pita bread Soups
                                    Pre-cooked veggie burgers Coffees and teas

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mangoannie

                                      Honestly, I don't understand the objection to street food. It is what it is. I think it could be a positive contribution to food culture in Montreal, but I think most people are skewed by what they see on programmes like Eat St. and don't realize that it's not the reality ( as mattlane said). I've lived (aside from MTL) in Boston and San Francisco, both of whom have street food and let me tell you, you do it once but never again. The concept would be amazing for tourists in the Old Port or people in a rush, but for a casual diner, it sucks. You're often in line for a while for what turns out to be so-so food and then have to find a place to sit and eat. Once the novelty wears off, you kind of avoid it.

                                      That being said just let the trucks in. Those that have so-so fare or who violate health laws will disappear and will be replaced. It's business. Just let it go.

                                    2. Food trucks by 2015?


                                      The Gazette article states, "Most important to the restaurateurs’ association, vendors will have to prepare food in a building where they will pay rent and taxes, putting them on more even footing."

                                      Plus the cart plus brick & mortar expenses? hmmm


                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: JerkPork

                                        Isn't it how it works already for most food trucks anyway? Can you really prepare that quantity of food in your little truck? They can just share a professional kitchen or rent space in another restaurant (like Saint Donuts do). I'm pretty sure they save time and can sell more that way.

                                        Anyway, good news. I'm sure we'll see a lot more this summer since boroughs are encouraged to test it already.

                                        1. re: JerkPork

                                          It certainly looks like good news, but the bureaucracy seems ridiculous;
                                          "A regulatory framework covering all of the city’s 19 boroughs is expected by summer 2015"
                                          "the commission has established a “no junk food” rule, promising Montreal’s vendors will mirror the gastronomic and esthetic sensibilities of the city"

                                          So the pencil-pushers will decide on whats "junk".

                                          1. re: JerkPork

                                            I hope they do learn from Toronto's mistakes (ie a la carte program) and figure things out soon. Let the market decide what to support vs a "no junk food" ban. Is a deep fried fish taco "junk" food? Looking forward to seeing the food trucks prosper in Montreal and hope that they offer better value than Toronto.

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              "It appears that street eats will be available on the avenues of downtown Montreal this summer. The mayor’s office has scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference Tuesday afternoon on the subject of a pilot project regarding “street kitchens,” or “cuisine de rue” en français, for the Ville Marie borough."


                                          2. if you don't make the food on the truck then you aren't a food truck, you are a food delivery guy.

                                            12 Replies
                                            1. re: catroast

                                              As far as I understand, food must be prepared (sauces, stews, veggies chopping) at a brick'n'mortar cuisine.

                                              All finishing and cooking will be done in the "truck".

                                              You know if you look closely at a regular restaurant, most of the preparation is done in advance during the day, and only the finihsing (cooking, grilling, ... ) is done at service.

                                              There is no difference.

                                              1. re: Maximilien

                                                Ok but the food trucks of the world that Applebaum hopes to emulate prep and cook on the trucks. That's the whole point. It's street food. It's supposed to the cheap and affordable every man's food.

                                                1. re: catroast

                                                  Yeah, catroast has a point. With the exception of a few, most street food in Portland is prepared on site in said trucks/carts/etc., so why not do the same here in Quebec? Would it violate the curent health code? (The latter is a legitmate question.)

                                                  1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                                                    I think it's to keep the small guy out of the picture, and basically hand over street food to the restaurant industry. This could have been a great opportunity for people who couldn't normally afford to start a business for lack of capital, but the city and the restaurant lobby have pretty much killed that idea.

                                                    1. re: SnackHappy

                                                      And that's sad. I'll be honest, I was hoping this would be a sea change for casual dining because I could more likely afford to run a food truck than a bricks & mortar bakery right now. It was, for me, a bright spot in alternative eating and thinking.

                                                      But I guess nowhere in Canada is really ready to commit to this right now. Not without sucking all the fun out of it.

                                                      1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                                                        At least you previously had hope...
                                                        I was jaded from the start, already convinced they're gonna miss the whole point, suck out all the fun, and generally fuck it up.
                                                        Look at the treatment and sham the charcuteries had to go through few years back.
                                                        Pencil-pushing, administrative, civil-servant boneheads know better than everyone else......
                                                        Just my opinion.

                                                    2. re: Peaches to Poutine

                                                      Many US cities have strict restrictions on food trucks. In Chicago food trucks can't park within 200 feet of any brick and mortar restaurant and until 6-months ago no cooking was permitted on board.

                                                      1. re: scipie

                                                        I think in Atlanta, they adjusted the laws because it was all like that the last time I went home--can't be hear restaurants, can't cook onboard--but current news is that it's relaxed and a lot of cool trucks are popping up!

                                                  2. re: Maximilien

                                                    Considering that most of the food trucks that existed last year at festivals were already mobile operations from various type of restaurants, I don't see that as much of a problem.

                                                    In the end, what I want, is more variety of food downtown and this will surely bring that!

                                                    1. re: westaust

                                                      I don't want to get into a tirade about the food truck offer in Montreal, but if what we get is more of what we have now, I don't see the point. Why pay the same price as a restaurant meal to eat luxury fast food out of styrofoam plates with plastic cutlery? All it is right now is an interesting novelty. It should be an alternative to fast food joints, but at their current price range it's anything but. I don't see the currently proposed model lasting more than a few years. Once the novelty wears off, that'll be it.

                                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                                        anyone else see that wonky video of applebaum drinking from grumman's sip sack? he looked utterly ridiculous.

                                                        so how long before sergakis has a truck at all 10 PVM locations?

                                                        1. re: SnackHappy

                                                          Actually, I'm hoping the food trucks will constantly push the envelope regulation wise. Not the hygenics, of course, but whats allowed to be made and served on board.
                                                          Hopefully after awhile, an equilibrium will be reached where the beaurocrats/restaurant lobby/resto owners will all be at ease and allow the trucks more freedom than what is now proposed.
                                                          I'm also hoping for 4-legged turkeys, but hey, a guy can dream...