Vancouver Food Carts are Great but It’s Not the Same as HK
Over the summer, I’ve been seeing more mobile restaurants and food carts around Vancouver as part of the city’s street food experiment. I don’t know if this is a trend or a cost saving way to run a business. But I don’t think it will be as big of a success as carts in Hong Kong (if you even consider it a success). Here’s why.
1) Vancouver requires licenses for everything. By the time you get your 3rd license, it’s time to renew your the first one you got. In HK, you can get away with hygiene negligence and if you don’t have proper licensing, you RUN when you see the cops. Seriously, they do that in Hong Kong.
2) Gas is not cheap. Parking is not plenty in the busy areas of Vancouver where you will get the most business. Again, you will need a license.
3) Unlike most Hong Kongnese, most Vancouverites drive. If I get into my car to look for food, I would drive to a restaurant, not a food cart. Streets in HK are busy with foot traffic at all times, and it’s likely that a Hong Kongnese will pick curry fish balls on the way from the MTR to a shopping mall. And we don’t have plenty of food carts, if we do, eating on the street may become more common.
4) Food is not cheap. Some customers likes ethnic. Some likes fusion. Organic sells but it is not cheap. However, with the amount of great restaurants we have, Vancouverites have a sharper tongue than other cities. We know crap food when we eat it.
I don’t doubt the skills of the cooks for the food carts, many are talented and it is cheaper to start a food cart than a restaurant. But there are also ppl in for the trend and to make a quick buck without offering anything worth the long run.
I think food carts are great for events (night market, PNE), school grounds and downtown where some people will appreciate a quick lunch. The only long-term success story I know of is Japadog. I don’t know how food carts can make a profit without cutting the quality of the food but let’s hope that everyone give Vancouver food carts a chance and keep the good ones in business for years to come.