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Jan 15, 2014 02:27 PM

Food Truck Bylaw Debate at CityHall

I want to get peoples opinion on this issue.

Does Toronto really need to follow the trend,with the likes of Vancouver,Montreal,and cities in the U.S.of allowing food trucks
to sell anywhere in the streets of Toronto?

I would like to see them be able to sell,but they should limit how many permits they give out.

Food truck prices seem to be the same,if not more than in the restaurants.

I find that Food from trucks are inconsistent due to limited space,and
amount of supplies and prep they can hold.

What would be the consequences of of the bylaw if it goes through.

Is it really worth it?

Here's the article from the Glode and Mail.

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  1. In Montreal they cannot sell anywhere. Food truck sites are very restricted - there is very poor coverage in the city.

    1 Reply
    1. The city should issue as many permits as vendors who want them. Public spaces are determined by the city and published. In the downtown core of Toronto side street locations are amongst those licensed locations. Example: Pearl St, both east and west of University. Also the north west corner of King & University, on the pedestrian area. First vendor(s) to the spots gets to use them. Vendors can negotiate with private spaces for operating.

      That's it.

      Food trucks are not competition with sit down restaurants. They are in competition with food courts.

      32 Replies
      1. re: lister

        So a food truck selling smoked meat sandwiches should be able to park directly in the parking spot in front of Caplanskies Deli at lunch and sell food? You do not think that a sit down restaurant does not do take-out especially at lunch? Plus all the truck customers filling all of the surrounding garbage cans with waste causing trash to litter the area? (ever see street festivals when they have the food booths setup & how much trash is tossed on the ground)... How about a Burrito Truck parked in front of Burrito Boys?

        1. re: pourboi

          For those specific examples, which are bad, there would not be a designated spot in front of Caplansky's. That's a major street (College) and wouldn't have a designated spot. The side street next to Caplansky's also isn't suitable and wouldn't be designated. Same goes with Burrito Boys being on Adelaide. I didn't propose that food trucks could park wherever they feel like.

          At the various present food truck locations they put out garbage cans. I've been to the RBC location, Sony Centre location, Roy Thompson Hall location and trash doesn't seem to be a problem. Regardless people need to be responsible for their trash.

          1. re: pourboi

            Ok check this out. I open a burrito restaurant in the space occupied by smokes poutine on Adelaide, directly on top of an existing burrito restaurant, but I make better quality food and people start coming to my restaurant instead. This is ok? But if I did it in a truck and parked across the street for some reason it's not ok? No offence but that logic, which is exactly the logic you used, is totally fucking backwards. You're suggesting that we simply stop allowing competition and let the status quo go unchecked. You shouldn't get in the restaurant industry if you're afraid to compete and if these places are afraid of the competition then they need to step the quality of their product up.

              1. re: disgusti

                Not so fast. the difference here is your second burrito business will be paying a similar rent and taxes to the guy underneath, putting you on a more equal footing and making your prices probably fairly similar based on the similar product. Food trucks have a huge advantage in this case and in some cases, can undercut a restaurants. Also, trucks take their money they earn back to wherever they live. Your burrito restaurant will contribute far more to a city than a truck.

                1. re: ThoughtForFood

                  But if food trucks are inherently limited in the amount of customers they can serve and therefore profit they generate given the space limitations that they face this should make up for the difference. Why can't *insert established quick service operation here* choose to forego the storefront model and open their own truck if that's where the money is at? Or do both? Who benefits from lack of competition? No one except the established guard

                  1. re: disgusti

                    They can choose to forego. Then we won't have any cheap eats places you can sit down in and a city full of ugly trucks. I guess that is kind of a false dichotomy, but I don't think the city should bend over to accomodate these trucks. I can see it now ,one side of sidewalk foodtrucks for 8 hours a day. The other side, empty spaces where great restaurants could have been. What do you think this street will look like at the end of the day when the truck packs up and leaves.

                    1. re: ThoughtForFood

                      Except that wouldn't happen under my idea.

                      1. re: ThoughtForFood

                        I'm sorry but this is flat out ridiculous. Have you been anywhere else? Ever?Street food peacefully coexists with first class restaurants in most of the rest of the world, but we're just starting to figure this out and people are having the problem of associating street food instantly with giant food trucks. Once out fascination with these massive boxes peters out and we realize that it's actually the food and not the vehicle from which it's delivered that matters we'll be in a much better place. We need choice, regulated and inspected choice but choice nonetheless, not a municipal government happy to abide by the incredibly stagnant and insufferably outdated status quo.

                        1. re: disgusti

                          I called my own statement a false dichotomy, suggesting there was some middle ground. I've eaten street food around the world and realize Toronto is a completely different creature. Streetfood offerings in most other countries are tiny little places with a few items with one worker. Not a mobile restaurant like foodtrucks. I would like to see more small vendors.

                        2. re: ThoughtForFood

                          Good lord. Do you seriously think the mental process is "Am I going to get something from the truck, which I have to eat standing up/outside from a styrofoam package with a plastic fork, or am I going to go the great restaurant across the street where I can eat from china at a nice table?" I buy food from food trucks where there are no good restaurants nearby (think, e.g. UofT on St. George street or the Convention Centre) and I have only an hour between lectures. I have never in my life decided to go out to eat at a restaurant and then changed my mind and dined at a truck.

                          Seriously - do you think Payless Shoes stops people from buying Jimmy Choos or Frye boots? They are segmented markets, and the crossover between people who want to eat at a food truck at a given time, and the people who want to set at a sitdown restaurant is miniscule at best.

                          1. re: FrankD

                            this is part of the problem. it shouldn't have to be a segmented market... great food should be available from anyone who wants to sell it, and to appease the licensing and cleanliness nerds who always pop up in these discussions i'd even submit that they should be licensed and inspected like regular restaurants, although i much prefer the rather haphazard approach that a lot of the world continues to abide by.

                            1. re: FrankD

                              FrankD look up what False Dichotomy means and come back to me. My statement was rather sarcastic. I was playing devils advocate. There is middle ground. I am talking Cheap eats vs Cheap eats, Jimmy Choo vs Payless is hardly a good analogy. How you came up with this from what I said is beyond my understanding.

                              1. re: ThoughtForFood

                                False dichotomy? You're the one who suggested that food trucks take business from "great restaurants". Most food trucks sell food that costs less than $8 per person, drinks included. Could you please give me your list of 'great' restaurants in Toronto that do the same? And if you are talking 'cheap eats' vs. 'cheap eats', please have the courtesy to qualify that upfront, as the unqualified term "great restaurants" does not immediately bring 'cheap eats' to mind.

                                If your statement was intended as sarcasm, you need more training in the genre, as it was nearly impossible to infer.

                                1. re: FrankD

                                  The discussion was about burrito vs burrito, If you read earlier in the convo which is all attached. I guess I shouldn't expect people to read. High end was never part of the conversation nor did I EVER say anything about them stealing business from "great restaurants". You put words in my mouth. If the food truck market is too attractive to people who do cheap eats, why would they ever open a cheap eats location when they can just go wherever they want in a truck? I never said anything about stealing business. Its about a business not opening in the first place because they decided to go the Truck route. I want little hole in the wall places to go sit and eat in. There needs to be a sarcasm font!

                                  1. re: ThoughtForFood

                                    Your exact sentence from a few posts above:
                                    " The other side, empty spaces where great restaurants could have been. ", with the unwritten implication that those 'great' restaurants ARE NOT there because those pesky food trucks took away their potential business. See, those of us who write for a living are pretty sensitive to what's not being written as well.

                                    I agree with you; there should be a sarcasm font. At other sites, we bracket such comments with "<s>" and </s>".

                                  2. re: FrankD

                                    Frank, I have no idea which food trucks or even qsr's you've been going to in 2014 that get you a meal and a drink for under 8 dollars. That's just not happening

                            2. re: disgusti

                              A well setup food truck,should not have a problem with the amount of customers they serve,given that the have (Should Have!)A space(restaurant,or commercial inspected kitchen) where they pre-prep to load on to the truck.I could not imagine a truck not having a home base where they can stock,or call someone when they are running out of food.

                              I also assume that if they give out license of where you can set up your food Truck it would have to be at heavy foot traffic intersections.I would not imagine any food truck owner wanting a license to sell at the corner of eg. Dupont and Shaw st

                              1. re: disgusti

                                some people cannot comprehend that a food truck's volume is dictated by the space of their kitchen and their storage. comparing a food truck kitchen to a burrito restaurant kitchen is laughable.

                              2. re: ThoughtForFood

                                I can't imagine people are likely to commute further in a food truck than they are to commute to a business they own. Given how hard a food truck is on gas, it seems like they'd probably prefer to commute less distance than a restaurant owner who can choose a more efficient vehicle.

                              3. re: disgusti

                                it's always a competition in the food industry, it's always comes down to who can make better food and locations

                              4. re: pourboi

                                As well, people complain about the nanny state. Just how much do you want? Inspections make sense. Dictating competition doesn't.

                                1. re: pourboi

                                  i'd love to see a smoked meat truck that actually knows what they're doing park in front of Caplansky's and school Zane and maybe spank him for his godawful overpriced swill.

                                  1. re: frogsteak

                                    Hehehe. So would I. We still think wistfully of the many fantastic sandwiches early on at Monarch.

                                    1. re: frogsteak

                                      I think that, "godawful overpriced swill" is a bit severe as a description of Caplansky's food. It appears that thousands disagree with you. I haven't been lately, but I went to the Monarch a number of times and I've been to the restaurant a couple of times. That description does not apply, in my opinion. Maybe it's not up to the same standard, but it certainly isn't 'swill'.

                                      1. re: Yongeman

                                        A drink and a terrible smoked meat sandwich is $13...Definitely overpriced when you consider that their smoked meat is no tastier than a Lester's vacuumed sealed brisket. They serve one of the worst smoked meat sandwiches I've ever had. For what it's worth, thousands also eat at jack astors.

                                          1. re: caviartothegeneral

                                            I don't want to start up another Caplansky-hater thread. I selected one of the more valid posts from the first thread caviartothegeneral. Most of the posts are just people who love to hate success--all too common here. Then there's this one: "Why haters gotta hate? ;-)

                                            So, part of the reason I came up to Toronto is that I'm working on something about revivalist/artisan delis, the new breed of delis trying to bring back turn of the (20th) century flavors and techniques. Caplansky's is one of only a handful, the others being my own Kenhy & Zuke's, Mile End (probably the most famous because it's in NY), Wise Sons, and Stopsky's.

                                            I guess it's necessary to give other credentials, like that I've been pretty much everywhere most people name, scores of places in NY, LA, and Montreal, plus delis wherever I travel.

                                            I've had two meals now at Caplansky's. I'll probably have one more before I leave town. I thought the food was very good. The only weak items, I think, were a salad whose vinaigrette needed more vin and a couple of the pickles on the pickle platter that were just okay.

                                            The smoked meat was quite good. It has a nice real smoke flavor. A lot of the revivalist places are curing and smoking their own pastrami/smoked meat. So many of even the most famous delis outsource the product, often using the same thing everyone else in town uses, so it's just a matter of who happens to heat it and serve it best that day. I thought the smoked meat had a nice balance of cure and smoke. Both days I got it at the end of the day and it wasn't dry. Slices were thick cut, but still tender enough that they fell apart with a slight tug. The fat cap was translucent and though my wife avoided it, I loved how it melted in my mouth like pastrami flavored chocolate.

                                            The tongue was also terrific. Very luscious and tender with a nice pickled flavor. I like my chopped liver a little chunkier with hunks of egg showing, but it tasted good. I liked the salami a lot, too. Milder than the stuff we get from Empire National in Brooklyn or from Katz's. I think it'd be great in a simple cheese sandwich like at Wilensky's.

                                            Love some of the specialty items, too, like the smoked meat poutine. The gravy was a little different from what I got at places like Banquis in Montreal, but it was still good and the smokier smoked meat works great. Very good fries, too. I think the knish is brilliant, unlike any I've had. They say it's puff pastry shell, but it reminds me more of the crust of bread, seeded with sesame, I believe, and then stuffed with mashed potatoes and smoked meat. And then they put more of that smoked meat gravy around it. Huge step up from most knishes, especially those evil hockey pucks places like Katz's sell. Ugh.

                                            Desserts, which too often at modern delis are about size, not quality, were quite tasty, too. Had the s'more cake, which was chocolate cake, chocolate icing, graham crackers, and browned marshmallows layered was fun and tasty. Even better was the sour cherry pie we had tonight. Nice crust and very good filling. Just the right tartness vs sweetness.

                                            I was a little worried when I got to Toronto and I was looking up other places to eat and saw this thread on Caplansky's. I was thinking maybe I came all this way and spent $1000 on our plane tickets for nothing. I'm glad the bulk of this thread, imo, was so off the mark. I think they've exceeded the hype."

                                            Oh, and Caplansky just announced that he's opening a couple of spots at Pearson Airport. That doesn't mean he has the best resto in the city, but it means something.

                                            1. re: Yongeman

                                              You are entitled to your opinion and that does sound like an interesting article but I cannot imagine how anyone who has tried the finest in smoked/cured meats of Montreal and NYC could like what Caplansky's is serving. In my opinion they execute very poorly.

                                              1. re: Yongeman

                                                Yongeman, I appreciate your thoughtful post. My 'dead horse flogging' response was aimed at other posters in this thread, and alas the Caplansky-hater thread has started anew, several hundred posts and several years later. I eat at Caplansky's about every six months and have never been disappointed with their smoked meat. If you saw the Guy Fieri DDD episode shot at Caplansky's, you know they smoke their own briskets and use their own spice blend that differentiates them from the Montreal / New York style. Best of luck with your deli work!

                                        1. re: frogsteak

                                          I'm with you on this!! The amount of Caplansky's fans on these boards never cease to amaze me. Hasn't been good since the Monarch at College & Clinton

                                    2. Also your comment about limiting permits due to food inconsistency is nonsense. Ultimately if a trucks food is inconsistent or bad they will go out of business because the public won't go to them. They have lots of other choices.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lister

                                        My comments on permits,and food inconsistency are in two separate sentences,and are two different points.I in no way
                                        meant that they should limit permits because,they would be

                                        1. re: Spanglo

                                          That's not how I read it but whatever.

                                      2. I can't believe ANY city 'allowing food trucks to sell anywhere'. So your premise may be flawed.
                                        Food trucks have been operating for years under a licensing system with specific locations being allowed (I've certainly been buying from them for over 15 years (and that doesn't include burgers and ice-cream). Do a search for Wokking On Wheels - which has been around for what seems like generations.

                                        What we have now are a 'new generation' of food trucks that want to change the rules. I don't have a problem with that - they probably need an update - but not 'truck blanche' to completely go wherever they please. I want licensing (for safety and health reasons); defined locations (to ensure both vehicular and pedestrian safety) and defined users - we don't want 'truck wars' with people fighting over spaces. And I want 'reasonable' protection for existing restaurants whose livelihood should not be undermined by people who do not pay the appropriate taxes (of course, food trucks would never cheat on taxes would they?).
                                        It doesn't help when food trucks claim they're serving 5* meals either (as mentioned in the article).

                                        IF this is a good idea, surely we can adapt other cities rules and regs. If our politicians can't get their act together (we have an election this year!), how difficult would it be for the truck owners to propose an adaptation of comparable rules elsewhere?

                                        The last thing I want to see is the 'permit system' to become so restrictive that the permits themselves become more valuable than the businesses - c.f. the taxi license set-up where the cab licenses used to sell at a huge premium.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          I'm sorry but the tax thing is bullshit. Tons of restos operate as cash only and have just the same opportunity to fudge their books as any truck would

                                          1. re: disgusti

                                            I immediately thought the same thing. Is there a worse (legal) industry for questionable labour and financial practices? I certainly don't know of one.

                                            1. re: trombasteve

                                              Exactly how do these places cheat on their property taxes and license fees?
                                              You're arguing against something that I never said, and even if my statement was misleading (which it may have been as two of you jumped in with similar comments) that was a throw-in at the end of my major points. Can I assume you agree with those as you didn't comment on them?

                                              (EDITED to add that my final comment was intended to show how something that is NOT said is not necessarily implied. Irony doesn't always come across well and I don't want to initiate a long off-topic discussion on people meant by not saying something).

                                          2. re: estufarian

                                            Food trucks need the same health and safety rules as restaurants. no different.
                                            Defined locations: do we do that with restaurants? Nope. so why with food trucks.
                                            Protection for existing restaurants: pure bullshit. if i wanted to open a deli 2 storefronts down from Caplansky's, he can't stop me. if i own a coffee shop and, as per their usual practice, Starbucks opens up across the way? I can't stop them. so why should this apply to a food truck?

                                            people are buying trucks for $100 000. I can get a restaurant lease from a closed restaurant for as low as $20 000.

                                            the food truck concept is simple. if i want a 1 hour meal in a restaurant, i go there. if i want something quick or something i can eat in a park, i'd go to a food truck. there's no grey area. restaurateurs that are crying the blues over food trucks should examine their own business plan to figure out how to attract more customers and not worry about a bloody truck that will park outside. in the end, if a food truck like El Gatronomo is as good as they are, people will come to the AREA to discover the truck. as a restaurant owner, i'd be jumping for joy if new people were coming to my area and seeing my restaurant. that's how i found out about Chantecler - due to the lines at Grand Electric.

                                            1. re: atomeyes

                                              Actually we do restrict restaurant locations - try opening one on Bayview/Mt Pleasant/Queen west/King West/Ossington and see how far you get.

                                              My 'protection' point was in the same sentence and connected with the 'taxes' issue. I never said or implied that competition wasn't a good thing. Please remove your bullshit - you parked it in the wrong place. I will expand further, on your non-valid attribution. If you open a deli (or a Starbucks) you will have to comply with other by-laws (e.g. provide a washroom) - no requirement for trucks to do that. So the 'by-law barrier' is equal for permanent constructions.

                                              Your cost point is new (not in response to my post). Fair enough - except please compare apples with apples. If you can find me a restaurant for $20,000 I may be tempted. But if that is a lease cost, then who in their right mind would lease a truck for $100,000? I think you may have confused capital costs with monthly/annual costs.

                                              I also found out about Chantecler by being unable to get in to Grand Electric. Twice. That means I now go to neither. But neither would I have gone to Queen West to line up at a truck - any truck. So I'm not sure what your argument is here. Even less would I be inclined to go, if one of the few parking spots was taken up by a truck. Of course, your opinion is your opinion (and worth posting about) - mine just differs on this last point as well.
                                              But we are probably in agreement that they are mostly separate markets - personally, I view a truck as an alternative to take-out (so I'd still defend the operations of primarily take-out permanent structures). But others may not have the same approach. As a student, I would have welcomed more choices - permanent restaurants, mostly, do not survive by targeting the student market (obviously rare exceptions, like Salad King), so I would have welcomed more choices at ,say, U of T or York U (examples; as I didn't study in Toronto). But I would never have promoted allowing (again an example) a food truck serving Thai Food to operate at will outside Ryerson right across from Salad King.

                                              1. re: atomeyes

                                                "Defined locations: do we do that with restaurants? Nope. " - Ummm.. How about ICI trying to get a liquor Licence? took about a year because of their location near a school.. You cant put a restaurant in any area that is not zoned commercial. New patio bylaws limit where a patio can be - no longer allowed new patios behind a business.

                                                "people are buying trucks for $100 000. I can get a restaurant lease from a closed restaurant for as low as $20 000." - you are talking owning vs leasing.. bet you could lease a truck for $20k a year

                                                "the food truck concept is simple. if i want a 1 hour meal in a restaurant, i go there. if i want something quick or something i can eat in a park, i'd go to a food truck. "
                                                What about all the take out pizza & chinese & burritto places that are on the street do people sit an hour in Burrito Boyz????

                                                "El Gatronomo" is that the one that drives 2 hours each way to Toronto from St Catherines and is complaining that the city rules dont allow it to make money? What about the Gas cost and time costs of the 4 hour commute a day maybe that is why it is not worth it to be in Toronto for them!

                                            2. What's so hard about starting a food truck program? Other cities seem to manage and their citizens and visitors enjoy them.

                                              Perhaps we need the province to set up an independent corporation - "Metrofoodtruklinx" - to study the issue for years, make recommendations then put it to council so they can change their minds 3 or 4 times. And don't forget Scarborough. Scarborough wants real food trucks and not those cheaper food carts.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: hal2010

                                                Have you read about New York Chicago and Los Angeles putting in new rules to restrict food trucks? New York many areas of the city are now off limits to trucks

                                                1. re: pourboi

                                                  Yes, and NY is where control freak Bloomberg tried to limit the size of sodas, ban certain additives, and make it illegal for restaurants to put salt on the table. Is that the example you wish to emulate?

                                                  1. re: FrankD

                                                    No I am just pointing out that everyone seems to think all other cities (mostly based on food TV shows, I think) have amazing gourmet food truck on every corner and that there are no problems and no restriction... i.e. "What's so hard about starting a food truck program? Other cities seem to manage and their citizens and visitors enjoy them."

                                                    But these cities do have regulations, and in many cases need to add more to control trucks that were taking advantage... banning trucks from an area around schools because the "junk food" trucks would park outside of kids schools everyday at lunch , or blocking area with narrow sidewalks etc.