Can gourmet food trucks survive in a city with four seasons?
by Leslie Clark
There’s no denying that the street food trend is booming these days. It’s easy to see the draw of inexpensive meals you can grab on the run. The newest incarnation of food trucks has been reaching beyond the typical street meat and fries to include offerings like specialty tacos, Asian fusion and classic French cuisine. Unfortunately for Torontonians, our participation in the trend has been limited to Food Network shows like The Great Food Truck Race and Eat St. that profile the unique and inventive delicacies served on wheels to the lucky inhabitants of sunnier cities. Places like San Francisco and Los Angeles play host to an abundance of food trucks. Is this something that could ever translate to Toronto?
A select few seem to think so. Back in July, the first ever Food Truck Festival rolled into the Distillery District. Visitors devoured wood oven pizzas, barbecue pork buns and grilled cheese sandwiches made on trucks that hailed from places as varied as Hamilton and the Niagara region. Then, on November 18th, the Food Truck Eats Mini-Festival brought the flavour and creativity of six different trucks to the vacant lot at Yonge and Gould. These events were well-received and encouraging for cheerleaders of the food truck trend.
There are, however, logistical concerns to be dealt with. In good weather, it’s easy to imagine lines stretching around the block. But what about during the city’s harsh winter months? It remains to be seen if patrons, no matter how enthusiastic, will brave the snow in high enough numbers. If not, the operators of the trucks won’t be able to make a profit, or regain what they’ll spend on their hydro bills. The only way to know if the trend will survive Toronto’s climate is for a few adventurous entrepreneurs to try it out. In the meantime those trusty yellow hot dog carts, with their quick-to-prepare menus and much lower operating costs, may have to tide us over this winter.