Last Saturday, the first gourmet food mobile truck to be licensed in Richmond rolled into Steveston.
The Street Meet Truck was an instant hit.
“We had a line up from the time we set up at noon to 2 p.m. until we ran out of food,” said Mike Carter, co-partner and former executive chef at the Teahouse in Stanley Park and the prestigious Opus Hotel, to name a few. “We served at least 250 people.”
However, their popularity could be short lived after the Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) questioned their rights to park indefinitely on Steveston’s busy Bayview Street.
Carter said Vince Morlet, SMA member, approached their truck and demanded to see their permit.
“They then put a complaint into the city’s bylaws officers and the officers came down and gave us the A-OK,” he added. “They (bylaw officers) had absolutely no problem at all.”
Nor does Morlet per say.
The News spoke to Morlet, SMA vice president and owner of Tapenade’s Bistro. Morlet doesn’t deny asking Carter to see the license.
“I want to find out what is the bylaw,” said Morlet. “I’m getting conflicting messages but what I’ve gotten from City Hall is that they want to look into a pilot project to have food trucks around the Canada Line stations.
“As far as I know is that Mike has a food truck license to go to construction sites, much like an ice cream truck.”
What concerns him is the potential for a proliferation of food trucks coming into Steveston.
“All the restaurants in Steveston were caught by surprise Saturday,” he said. “I don’t care if one food truck is here but what happens if next week there’s another truck and then next week four trucks … when does it end?”
He went on to say: “If this is completely 100 per cent legal, who am I to say Mike can’t run a business?”
However, Morlet thinks the city should put together clear, defined rules and regulations in place, such as the City of Vancouver has done, so that everyone in the food industry knows the guidelines for mobile food trucks.
“My concern is that I don’t want to see 25 food trucks lined up in Steveston … no way,” he said. “Having said that, I don’t want to rain on Mike’s parade.”
The 30-year-old Carter along with his partner, Alessandro Vianello, 25, a former executive chef with the Fairmont hotels here and abroad, had been looking to get into the often-lucrative mobile food truck business for more than a year now.
They spent four months outfitting the truck with state-of-the-art, stainless steel restaurant-grade equipment, including two fridges, a grill, a fryer and flat top burner.
“We offer local, fresh Mediterranean cuisine and everything is made from scratch daily.”
The inaugural day was last Thursday, April 5 at the corner of No. 3 and Saba roads by the Brighouse Canada Line station.
“We opened at 11 a.m. and there was a line up,” said Carter. “We sold out of four items by 12:30 p.m.”
According to Ted Townsend, the city’s spokesperson, Street Meet Truck has a Mobile Food Vending permit.
“Generally, this permit applies to ice cream trucks,” said Townsend. “They stop but not for an extended period of time.
“My understanding is that Street Meet was issued a permit on the intent to service work sites and movie sets.”
Townsend went on to say that there’s obviously been “a misunderstanding.”
“We will be following up with them to clarify this,” he added.
When asked how long an ice cream truck can stop at any specific site, Townsend said he didn’t have the specifics but would look into it.
“It’s not intended for an extended period of time … I’m not sure how long.”
When the News spoke to Carter about Townsend’s remarks, he said: “We have a Food Peddling permit, which allows us to sell food. The only information we found online was that we can park for a maximum of two hours before we move the truck, and then it has to be at least a minimum of 100 metres away.
“I’m going to take this document to the city.”
Finally, Carter said: “The people of Richmond had clearly told us that they want us here … it was all over our Facebook and Twitter.”