Published online at CTVEdmonton.ca on May 18, 2012.
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton: Friday, May 18, 2012
Drift food truck granted one week extension
Dozens of Edmontonians participated in a “sandwich flash mob” Friday in support of a food truck being forced to move from a busy downtown corner, on the same day the city granted the truck a one week extension.
People came out to show support for Drift food truck, which had been asked by the city to move from its spot on 108 Street and 100 Avenue, after complaints that it was stealing business away from a nearby restaurant.
“We really support growth in our community and people doing different and interesting things to make Edmonton a more vital place,” said Trish Walker, who organized the sandwich mob through Twitter.
“I came down specifically to support this group and what they are, the little guy,” said mob participant Denis Budd.
Drift had been parked at a different location a half block down from 108 Street and 100 Avenue, but recently moved to its current spot when construction began in their original area.
It was ordered to move out of 108 Street and 100 Avenue by the city, after Grandma Lee’s restaurant inside the nearby office tower, complained that the mobile food truck was stealing the restaurant’s business.
Along with lost business, Jim Timmons, owner of Grandma Lee’s, also says it’s unfair that he has to pay thousands of dollars in taxes and until food trucks do the same, it’s not a fair playing field.
Drift was originally ordered to move on Friday, but Drift owners’ Kara and Nevin Fenske refused.
“If we move somewhere and the same situation arises again, we’re in no better position,” Kara said.
The Fenskes’ say they want a clear set of guidelines for food trucks in the city.
On Friday, the city granted Drift a one week extension, giving them time to file an appeal and continue discussions surrounding guidelines for food trucks.
The Fenskes’ say the extension is just one step towards developing clear rules for mobile vendors.
“We’re just looking for something that’s concrete, that everyone can reference, restaurants and mobile vendors,” Kara said.
“Then we know right from the get-go where we can park and where we cannot park.”
Mayor Stephen Mandel says senior management is looking for a balance for permanent restaurant owners and mobile vendors.
“I really believe that the service that industry brings to citizens is important,” he said.
“That kind of creativity is valued in the city but we have to be careful where it goes so we allow everyone to be successful.”
Drift sold out on Friday, saying they were busier than they’d ever been before.
The owners says seeing Edmontonians come out to support them through the flash mob, and sending notes of encouragement online, has been very motivating for them and for the food truck business in Edmonton.
“It shows us that we are gaining support and that people not only like our food per say, but that they do want to see this as a type of food establishment in the city,” Kara said.
With files from Amanda Anderson