Today one of my readers asked the following:
Do you think that the crazy amount of food trucks we have here this summer has maybe affected the local restaurants? Maybe the town should look at how many food truck licenses they are handing out each summer? What do you think?
Food trucks are part of summer, and no matter how hard you argue they offer a different service. Of course a food truck can cost a fraction of what a brick and mortar place costs. But, they also have overhead costs. Try and comply with a Health Unit inspection in 100 square feet. Then there are the generators, permits, appliances, fridges etc and not many cheap and easy ways to handle and prep food. Of course, it’s a lot easier to make a living selling nothing but fries when you don’t have to cover the overhead of a building first.
Most of the food trucks have a steady traffic for lunch, which puts them at odds with the restaurants because they feel it drains away the lunch crowd. Some restaurant owners, on the other hand, are split. A few are defensive and annoyed by the incursion of food trucks into “their markets,” but just as many appeared to be really interested in the trucks as the advent of another food revolution. Some are even actively pursuing the concept themselves – thinking of a food truck as either an option to expand their existing brand and customer base or even a next step after the restaurant for him.
Maybe this is a moot point, but in Carleton Place this particular issue is real. Have you ever thought how much more handicap accessible food trucks are than restaurants? This is versus fighting doors on so called “accessible” restaurants, with tables that do not work for a chair, aisles that are often too small, and wait staff that do not understand that handicapped people don’t move as fast as they do. How many handicapped accessible places do you have on Bridge Street? Think about it. Because the buildings are older they don’t fall into the same laws as newer buildings. Is that a reason to ignore it?
No matter what business you open there is going to be competition. Unfortunately it’s a crucial aspect of capitalism, and it forces other businesses to either step up their game and compete, or be rendered into obsolescence by consumers.
This year there are three chip trucks missing in town. One on Lake Ave East, one in front of Giant Tiger, and one on Townline. There presently are 4 in town, and correct me if I am wrong, and three on the highway. I think parking your food truck directly outside a restaurant is rather rude, but we don’t have that issue in Carleton Place. The last food truck that was told to move was Mike Modowan on Bridge Street a zillion years ago. Did he ruin Bridge Street businesses? People need to understand that business is about taking risks and being dynamic and seizing opportunities.
The facts are that businesses exist. A new business comes along who does things differently and appears to be making money. The existing older business thinks to itself that maybe they should try it too, maybe try to up their game. Instead, and I was a guilty party when I had my business, they just complain about it. This scenario repeats itself in every field you can think of.
Businesses don’t need to protected, they need to be innovative. There needs to be more of an effort by the powers to be to attract people downtown so everyone can share in what we have. Any business who feels threatened by something should probably look at themselves first and think about why they feel that way. If your store stocks great and reasonably priced goods, your customers will not abandon you. If you’re a restaurant and you are scared of a food truck, step up your game and give your clients a reason to walk to your food business instead of the food truck.
Our issue downtown is three fold. Lack of innovation, vision and participation. We as the local consumer are also guilty and never take a moment to look around and see what a wonderful town we live in. Stop, and smell the roses. Try parking further than the next available spot, walk and look and enjoy for once. Maybe you’ll notice a few more things along the way. That would be a start.
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place