Vancouver: Lost Food Opportunity in Davis Bay?

The pad in Davis Bay, which once housed the Feastro the rolling Bistro food truck, sits empty this summer.

By Christine Wood |

The pad in Davis Bay, which once housed the Feastro the rolling Bistro food truck, sits empty this summer.

The mobile vendor pad on the Davis Bay seawall sits empty this summer, despite urging by the District of Sechelt for someone to submit a proposal to use the site.

“It’s not been from a lack of us trying,” said Emanuel Machado, manager of sustainability, parks and special projects with the District of Sechelt.

Machado said the District twice put out request for proposals (RFP), but no one applied for the spot.

“I’m not really sure why we haven’t gotten any applications,” he said. “I think that when folks actually think about how much work it involves in setting up a business anywhere, including a mobile business, it’s a lot of work, and I think that’s probably what’s stopped people from applying.”

Others think the application process came too late in the season, with the first RFP announced in June. That was much too late for Feastro the Rolling Bistro to get their season started.

Owner Paul Fenton said he was forced to make the decision to move his well known purple truck to Van-couver in November when it was apparent Sechelt council would not have a new mobile vendor process set up before he wanted to start his season.

At that time the District was working on a new mobile vendor bylaw to change how pads were awarded and deal with concerns from business people who said mobile vendors were not paying their fair share to set up seasonal businesses nearby established ones.

Business owners complained about business being taken from their own shops and restaurants that pay taxes and significantly higher rent year round.

The District spent months dealing with the issue before a new bylaw was passed.

Fenton is sad to see the Davis Bay pad sitting empty this summer, adding he wishes his company could have secured the spot.

“We asked in October that we be given an opportunity to operate on an on-going basis, and it took that many months for them to come back and ask for the RFP. By that time, it was just too late. We had to start planning for the season and the year,” Fenton said.

He blames Sechelt council for not getting the process underway sooner and giving his company the chance to submit an RFP late last year.

“So we put in an application in Vancouver after watching what was going on behind the scenes with the Target Marine fiasco and just everything else,” Fenton said. “Council just seemed to try to placate everybody. They’d make one decision and then they’d have a whiff of resistance and they would turn around and counter and go another direction. They just could not make a decision and seem to actually stand by it.”

Fenton’s business is getting high volumes of traffic in Vancouver, and every time the Food Network show highlighting Feastro runs, more people make the trek to try Fenton’s food. The show was filmed when Fenton was at the Davis Bay pad.

“Literally a day doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t come up and ask us why we’re not on the Sunshine Coast. They’ve seen the Food Network show, which has aired a number of times in the last few weeks. It brings out people every time and people tell us, ‘I would have come to the Sunshine Coast. I was seeking you out up there.’ I think it’s a lost opportunity that the Coast could have and should have had,” he said.

Sechelt Mayor Darren Inkster doesn’t think council is to blame for Feastro’s move, however.

“Feastro made a decision in November previous to this whole process to locate in Vancouver, and this process and the issues that go along with it began in the early spring,” he said.

Inkster noted he took his family often to visit the truck when it was in Davis Bay, and he sees the loss of the mobile vendor as a loss to Sechelt.

“I was definitely supportive of their product, it’s just I think because of the success of their product and the products that they offered, it was probably better for them, not good for Sechelt, but better for them to locate in a year-round location,” Inkster said, noting he didn’t feel the Davis Bay site was suitable to year-round mobile vending.

Fenton disagrees with Inkster, saying he thinks the site would work well for year-round mobile vendors and that he may apply for the pad after November.

“We want to see what happens come November with this elected group. But we’re not closing the door at all,” Fenton noted.