Guelph’s meals vehicles searching for assist from metropolis in type of meals truck court docket

With no social events, no business and no fixed location, food truck owners feel forgotten

Prior to the pandemic, food trucks in Guelph parked near festivals, concerts, and private events and enjoyed a steady stream of customers for the season.

For over a year now, they’ve paid their fixed costs out of pocket, had little to no events to attend to and feel forgotten by their community. 

“We’ve seen announcements for so many things but I haven’t seen any announcement for the food industry,” says Hitesh Jagad, owner of the restaurant Kirtida Kitchen, which also runs a food truck.

“They’re talking about supporting small businesses, patios, where is the food truck?”

The market size of Canada’s street vendors industry was approximately $325 million prior to COVID. In June 2020, a market research report by IBIS world forecasted a 19.4 per cent decline in revenue expectations. The industry’s primary source of income comes from large social gatherings.

Jagad says food truck owners are facing a critical point in their business. 

He says when the pandemic hit last year, all his bookings had been cancelled.

“There were no events, no festivals, no get-together, no private parties. Nothing happening,” says Jagad. 

“In the food truck business, I didn’t make any money last year.”

Despite facing losses, he says he’s still doing okay because he owns a restaurant in Downtown Guelph, an advantage not everyone with a food truck has.

“Some people only make their life with a food truck and some people have a side business like me.”

Jagad is hoping for the city’s assistance in creating a designated area for the Guelph’s food trucks to park so they can collectively create a food truck food court for a season — just like the city helped restaurants with the dining district. 

The Street Food app website has seven food trucks that operate in Guelph. 

Peterson Joseph, owner of two food trucks in Guelph, Pete’s Pizzeria and BB’s Grill say the food truck in the community is pretty much left on its own.

“Maybe the awareness of us being around is not there, but we’re not given the same level of care and attention that others are getting,” says Joseph. 

“You try to figure it out on your own but it would be nice if there was some sort of program.”

He says with almost all events cancelled last year, he had to just shut his truck down because it didn’t make sense to stay open. 

Joseph says even if he was to go in Downtown Guelph to set up his truck, he would have to pay a high parking fee which adds up to a lot given the fixed costs such as insurance and parking he’s had to out of pocket for the past year. 

“We’re not serving any food but those costs do not go away,” says Joseph. 

“Obviously with the most recent lockdown we had, we basically just had to close because it didn’t make sense for us to stay open.

Joseph says applying for government funding for a small business owner is very tedious. 

“Sometimes it’s kind of discouraging because the amount of information they’re asking, you got to work with an accountant and that’s money you don’t have,” says Joseph. 

“At the end of the day, you’re not even sure if you’re going to get those funds but you still got to spend a lot of money on accountants  to get all of those documents over.”

Without a permanent location, Peterson says it’s almost like his business doesn’t even exist for the community. 

“I don’t know what this year is going to come to but I’m hoping it’s not the same as last year,” says Joseph. 

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