Food trucks forever

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle with popular food truck vendor "Mr. Burger"

Food truck fever has well and truly struck the CBD, with the City of Melbourne announcing that five permanent precincts for food truck vendors will be operational early next year.

The five locations will be mostly within the CBD, with sites adjacent to the Queen Victoria Market, three along Flinders St, as well one as outside the Arts Centre in Southbank.

These sites will become home to 17 food truck vendors with some becoming permanent residents and others rotating on a monthly schedule, ensuring variety is also on the menu.

“We think this is a wonderful addition to the variety of food already on offer in Melbourne. It’s a much more casual way of eating, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less in quality. We already have a pretty impressive culinary offer and this just adds to it. It’s part of a vibrant street scene,” said the Lord Mayor.

Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular for both customers and potential vendors, with the City of Melbourne having already received 500 applications for permits.

The selection process will be the standard method, conducted via a panel of five council staff. Criteria for the “Food Truck Policy” includes healthy food options, high quality presentation, a commitment to sustainable practices and a strong social media following in order to gain as much foot traffic as possible at these precincts. Exemplifying these criteria at the announcement were established vendors Mr Burger, Soul Kitchen and Nem N Nem.

“These are examples of what we want to see,” Cr Doyle said. “Healthy food, sustainable practices and a diversity of offer.”

The City of Melbourne will be taking expressions of interest under the new policy soon and has said permit fees will vary depending on location and can cost anywhere from $200 to $1700 per month. The fee coincides with pedestrian numbers at each site as well as commercial rental costs of the businesses trading around these locations.

Concerns about these permanent permits detracting from existing restaurant revenue at the chosen locations were laid to rest, with the Lord Mayor explaining there would be an intentional balance created between trucks and restaurants.

“If you look at where we are putting these trucks, they are not in direct competition with established restaurants,” he explained.

“They tend to be in places where much more casual, outdoor, incidental dining is appreciated. So we make sure we do balance one against the other. But that’s also why there aren’t 200 licences on offer. It’s only 17, so we feel it is a complementary offer. We are certainly not in the business of driving other businesses out.”

All sites are expected to be up and running as early as March 2017, coinciding perfectly with “Melbourne’s Marvellous March”. The grand prix, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Melbourne Fashion Festival and Moomba are just some of the events taking place during this time and their crowds will now be spoilt for choice when it comes to food truck dining.

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