As a massive street food festival prepares to take over the Olympic Park this weekend, extraordinary food truck news has emerged out of Toronto.
In "Remember food trucks in parks last summer? One man is still paying $36,000 for the failed project", Star staff reporter Graham Slaughter chronicles the predicament of Suresh Doss, a freelance food writer and event planner.
In July of 2013, Doss sat on a city food-truck working committee when the idea of the parks trial was tabled. The plan was seen as a way for food trucks to test drive services while cutting through municipal bylaws, which didn't allow trucks to vend on streets or in parking lots until a council vote the following spring.
Rather than sign multiple contracts with dozens of trucks, the city signed a deal solely with Doss' company, Spotlight Toronto, an online culture website. He intended to collect the payment from each truck by the fall.
The experiment to install food trucks in Toronto parks was largely a bust, however, and Doss - who admits he took a big chance - is now on the hook for a considerable tab. A small number of food truck operators have reimbursed the Zagat Toronto editor for the spaces he secured from the city on their behalf. But others, like Zane Caplansky, have refused.
The vocal owner of Caplansky's Deli participated in the park trial but came away unimpressed: "People who go in parks are unemployed people, people walking their dogs or people looking to score sex or drugs — not people looking for food."
As a result, Caplansky has no plans to pay Doss for the space his truck rented for "two or three days." Another food tuck operator, who eventually settled with Doss for $800, griped that the park trial was so bad that he "feared for mine and my staff's safety. We were yelled at and constantly approached by drug addicts and very intoxicated people."
The overall takeaway for Montreal food truck observers? We have it pretty good here.