By Paul Moloney | TheStar.com
Expansion of gourmet food trucks won’t happen this summer.
Some city councillors want to permit food trucks to set up in commercial parking lots, but regular restaurants want to put the brakes on that idea.
Noting the concerns of restaurateurs, the licensing and standards committee on Thursday sent the hot button issue to a staff working group that’s to report in November.
“I just want to sell sandwiches,” said Matthew Basile, whose Fidel Gastro’s Cuban sandwich truck doesn’t have a permanent location.
Restaurateur Steve Mastoras showed the licensing committee a copy of his $60,000 property tax bill for his Whistler’s Grille on Broadview Ave.
Mastoras also rhymed off the cost of electricity, water, gas and other items in arguing that low-overhead food trucks represent unfair competition.
“Respect the taxpayer,” Mastoras said, repeating Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign slogan.
“There are thousands of taxpaying operators in the city that I guarantee you will fill these committee rooms and council chambers if and when you somehow unilaterally allow food trucks to swarm our streets,” he said.
Aside from paying property taxes, bricks and mortar restaurants sponsor sports teams, support schools and participate in local beautification projects, said Debra DeMonte of The Longest Yard restaurant.
“I believe there’s a place for food trucks but any truck in competition with a bricks-and-mortar restaurant is simply unfair competition,” DeMonte said. “It has to be a level playing field.”
Street food advocate Darcy Higgins told reporters that food trucks coexist with restaurants in other centres.
“In cities across the world, we don’t see business being undermined. We see street food adding vibrancy to the city.”
It was disappointing that the committee didn’t embrace food trucks at Thursday’s meeting, but sent it off for more study instead, Higgins said.
The committee did endorse adding fruits and vegetables to the range of items that can be sold by the city’s 137 street food vendors, including hot dog and sausage carts.
The full list of added items includes:
• Pre-packaged cut fruits and vegetables.
• Whole fruits and vegetables including corn on the cob.
• Pre-packaged salads, nuts and seeds.
• Soups, veggie burgers, coffee and tea.
Final approval to add the items will be up to council at its meeting next week.