Food trucks roll in

PERTH city council has decided to offer 12 permits for food trucks following a successful trial which ended in October.

The annual permit seems a steal at $1200 given truck owners can pay $100 for a single day or $500 for special events, but a participant in last year’s trial reckons trading restrictions make it a marginal business and he’s not going to reply.

The council was initially reluctant to embrace street food because the vans compete with rate-paying brick and mortar restaurants, but consultation showed high levels of support.

So permits were capped and a strict 100-metre exclusion zone from other businesses was enforced.

• The owner of Big El’s Nino food truck has decided not to apply for the City of Perth’s mobile food trading program, saying trading restrictions make it too hard.

• The owner of Big El’s Nino food truck has decided not to apply for the City of Perth’s mobile food trading program, saying trading restrictions make it too hard.

“A 100-metre exclusion zone from permanent businesses and events will allow fair trading to all providers, while offering the community an appetising variety of food in previously untapped areas,” lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi said.

Permit holders will be limited to eight locations; John Oldham Park, Wellington Square, and two in Langley Park have been nominated and the council is yet to announce the remainder.

Logan Punyanitya took part in last year’s trial with Big El’s Nino mobile cantina, but he reckons the designated spots are too quiet.

“A lot of these areas you think ‘oh yeah that could work’, but if you sit there for a week and see who comes, it’s very rare to find a place where you’ll make back enough for your staff and food,” Mr Punyanitya said.

“There’s no manual for how to be a food truck at the moment … at the end of the day, everything becomes about money.”

Although the food truck industry is booming (80 applied for last year’s ‘food truck rumble’), Mr Punyanitya says owners can be hamstrung by regulations against setting up chairs or parking between lunch and dinner services, and excessive and inconsistent safety inspections from different councils.

He has also run a brick-and-mortar business in the past and understands why the regulations are necessary, but has decided private events are a better way to do business than paying for all the permits.

Applications for the mobile food trading program close January 27.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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