By Contributor | The Guardian
SUMMERSIDE – Norman Zeledon has big dreams for Summerside’s food truck industry.
He’d like to see a food truck village, with various vendors, musicians, artists and activities, in one area of the city’s downtown.
“It is a great opportunity,” said Zeledon, who owns The Galley food truck. “My goal is to have eight, 10 food trucks.”
His dream may not be too far from reality, as the Summerside Port Corporation is mulling over how it can best accommodate the burgeoning food truck business.
Last year, three food trucks were situated off Heather Moyse Drive, with two, including Zeledon’s, located at the former Burger King property, and a third, Viva La Crepe, set up across the road at Spinnakers’ Landing.
A fourth food truck — Hoss’s Fish and Chips — operated for a second year from the Waugh’s Quick Mart parking lot on Water Street.
The former Burger King property is owned by the port corporation and is where Zeledon sees that future food truck village.
“We are taking the first step forward, and that is considering whether the port authority is willing to invest the money and actually being able to create the stalls,” he added. “There is a little bit of infrastructure that we would have to have… electricity and power and a filling and dumping station for water, and to put in grass and to make a children’s playground.”
It something the port corporation is considering, says its president Arnold Croken.
Last year, it aided the operation of Zeledon’s truck and a second at the Burger King site by running power to their vehicles.
“It seemed to work out pretty well,” said Croken. “Rather than have it sit empty… we would like to utilize it and make it a little easier for them to hook up this year and encourage another few to come in.”
The corporation, if it decides to move forward, this year could include running electricity underground and having a water supply to operators.
“The more services that are offered, the more people it attracts. Other vendors saw that last year because there was an increase in traffic at Spinnakers’ Landing and everyone seemed to have a half-decent year,” added Croken. “We heard that the food experience was great and that’s just a good message to be going out in terms of drawing people to that area.”
Zeledon doesn’t see the addition of more food trucks as worrisome.
“It is about time,” he added. “If you look at the world, even Asia, about 60 per cent of their food revenues come from hawker-style vendors. Now, in the United States, you see food truck villages, and there are hundred of trucks operating in New York City every day.”
Eventually, he hopes to see a bustling outdoor market at the site, with farmers selling produce, an atrium, projection screen, playground, musicians and artists.
“Nowadays, you can get gourmet food out of a food truck. We actually would like to see our customers enjoying our food rather than being behind the kitchen doors,” added Zeledon. “The more the better, because that’s how we will create business.”