They were once very present in downtown Montreal, but gradually disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the popularity of telecommuting and office towers much less crowded, food trucks, or food trucks, have changed their business model. Most are now turning to private events, to the detriment of the streets of the metropolis.
Posted at 5:00 a.m.
“Especially downtown, Montreal is increasingly neglected by our members. They are now very busy with private events, festivals. People haven’t returned to the office in numbers, so it’s not profitable for the food trucks to go out on a very regular basis in the streets of the city”, explains the vice-president of the Association of street restaurateurs of Quebec (ARRQ), Gaëlle Cerf.
She says the industry is still doing “very well.” “We did a lot of recruiting, we went to more than 550 private events. This is double the activity compared to 2021. It really gives access to different clienteles, more financially secure, ”recalls the businesswoman.
In his eyes, the trucks will return to the city center “when people really come back there”. “It will be really intimately linked to that. We must continue to revitalize the city center. We are monitoring the situation, and we are keeping the communication channels open with the City, ”insists Mme Stag.
You can clearly see that street food is changing. Everyone needs to reach a certain break-even point. The commercial priorities are the festivals, the corporate. And then, if they have a hole in the schedule, they’ll go out on the town.
Gaëlle Cerf, vice-president of the ARRQ
A city “less and less” interesting
From the start of the day, Benoit Dessureault’s team gets busy preparing his street food truck. On the way from The Press, employees fill and line the interior of the truck. The owner of the “Delmobile” – the restaurant truck Chez Delmo – must go in the afternoon to a private event held by a school, for the start of the school year. The retailer also sees that the industry model is changing.
It’s less and less interesting in town. It’s very random, we don’t know how many products we will sell. And above all, by regulation, you must park where the City signs provide for it, except that it suits the City more than the trucks.
Benoit Dessureault, restaurant owner at Delmo
“These rules imposed on us are often not aware of our realities. On Notre-Dame, for example, last year they put the street food places on the left side, in an easterly direction. It was therefore necessary to keep the truck before the park, west of Place-d’Armes. Except that it makes the service window end up in traffic. For us, it is unusable. This year, we didn’t make any outings in the city, largely because of that, ”says Mr. Dessureault.
He says he finds it “a pity” that Montreal has not sought to consult the industry more in recent years, in order to find concrete solutions.
“I do business with many other municipalities, and it’s really not like that. We are rather asked what is the best location to have the best dynamics of food truck possible, and then we adjust accordingly. In Montreal, I have rules imposed on me that have nothing to do with the dynamics of street food,” continues the owner.
On the City’s Executive Committee, the head of economic development, Luc Rabouin, affirms that the City continues to collaborate with partners, including the ARRQ, “in order to find the best solutions to support them”.
We understand that they seize interesting opportunities, such as participation in private events, and we are in regular discussion with the association so that the population can continue to benefit from the presence of food trucks during the summer season.
Luc Rabouin, responsible for economic and commercial development on the executive committee of the City of Montreal
As a general rule, the management of street food is delegated to the boroughs. In Ville-Marie, the borough mandates the ARRQ to manage street food. For the 2022 season, which runs from April 16 to October 31, four sites are reserved for food trucks.
In the city center, trucks have to park in specific places. They have the choice between the monument to Sir George-Étienne Cartier, on the avenue du Parc, the place d’Armes, on the north side of the rue Saint-Jacques, the place du Canada, rue de la Cathédrale in the southwest de René-Lévesque, or Jos-Montferrand Park, on the east side of Frontenac Street.