Published online at CTVEdmonton.ca on May 16, 2012.
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Food truck fight underway in downtown Edmonton
A popular Edmonton food truck has been asked to move from its current downtown location, after complaints that it was stealing business from a nearby restaurant.
Drift Food Truck is a mobile eatery that parks at 108 Street and 100 Avenue.
It moved to the location recently after construction began at their prior spot halfway down the block.
“We ended up having to find a new spot within a day,” said Drift owner Nevin Fenske.
It was at that point that a nearby restaurant made complaints about Drift to the city.
“They claim that we’re stealing customers,” Fenske said.
“What they have been doing is basically complaining to the vending co-ordinator daily and asking us to be removed.”
As a result of the complaints, the city has told Drift they have until Friday to move their truck elsewhere.
“We see this occasionally where an existing business might have concerns about what the vending truck is doing, either competing with them or in terms of image, certain businesses may not want to see a truck because it reduces their exposure,” said Scott Mackie, manager of planning with the city.
“There are actually lots of great locations downtown for street vending. It’s probably for the most part easier for them to move, but not always, and what we want to do is make sure both businesses are successful.”
The city says they are in discussions with both businesses to find a solution.
While Fenske says he understands the restaurant’s concerns, he thinks all businesses – permanent or mobile – should be working together to attract people to the area.
“There’s thousands and thousands of people that work probably within a two block radius, so I mean, I don’t think that one restaurant could feed them all,” he said.
Fenske adds that he doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“This is kind of our time to stand up for vendors, whether that be food trucks or just Drift as a business,” he said.
“We don’t want to be aggressive in this situation but we do want to stand up for ourselves.”
But the city says if Drift doesn’t move by the Friday deadline, there’s a chance the food truck’s permit could be revoked.
“If they choose to, they can certainly escalate their objection. We could have a discussion at another level to see if we could come up with another solution,” Mackie said.
Food trucks are becoming more and more popular in Edmonton.
Drift itself has created quite a following, with many customers pledging their support and telling Fenske that they’ll follow the truck wherever it ends up being.
“It really snowballed,” Fenske said.
“People have already written numerous letters to the city and to us just to say that they’re behind us and anything that we need. It’s been great.”
Mackie says the city has licensed 55 street vendors and a situation like Drift’s is “very, very rare.”
Along with their regular vending locations, this month Drift and a number of food trucks have been gathering in Old Strathcona each Thursday as part of a “Truck Stop” foodie event.
With files from Amanda Anderson