Food trucks, food vans, mobile vendors, whatever you call them, they are growing in popularity around the world.
The idea of running a small-scale restaurant or cafe out of a truck or a van is not new but recent changes to state government legislation now requires councils to issue permits for mobile food vendors to operate from a road area.
The finalisation of a policy for the Port Lincoln City Council area this week sets out a structure for how the vans can operate around the city, with sixteen locations identified in the policy.
Public consultation was not required but it was a good move by the council to take the proposed policy to the community and understandably some of the city’s traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses dealing with their own overheads, like rent, raised some issues.
Concerns raised in the submissions included competition for existing businesses, the impact on carparking, at the Tasman Terrace location in particular, and littering among other things.
However there a lot of potential positives as well, such as more variety of food on offer for locals and visitors, more people enjoying different areas of the city, more opportunities for people to start local small businesses and perhaps the potential for mobile vendors to progress to a bricks and mortar business themselves one day as has happened in Adelaide and elsewhere for particularly popular food trucks.
In response to the community’s concerns, the council has introduced a limited number of sites in each approved area, a maximum number of hours operators will be allowed to stay and fixed hours within which they will be able to operate so it will certainly not be a free-for-all.
For example the trading hours for a lot of the sites end at 6pm.
While some of the sites are in prime locations like the foreshore jetty carpark others might seem a bit out of the way but that can be part of the appeal.
In other places many people follow their favourite food trucks on social media and will follow them to wherever they pop up.
Even with the policy in place it is unlikely there will be an influx of food trucks across Port Lincoln any time soon but it does create a framework for vendors to know where they can and cannot go and when.
And if it is an incentive for people to try something new all the better.