FREDERICTON, N.B. – A group of Fredericton restaurants are calling for less restrictions so they can take their food on the road.
In a few months of business, Cheese Please has become a staple for the lunch crowd in Fredericton. Owners Stephen Rae, Jack Youssef, and Tony El Amm use local ingredients from apples to bread in their gourmet grilled cheese creations.
From a basic Bacon and Cheddar to the massive Turkey Dinner, customers are flocking to the little truck.
“It’s comfort food,” said Rae. “It’s something that absolutely everyone likes, and we wanted to make sure we appealed to the most amounts of people. It’s something I like, and it seems to be going quite well.”
But it wasn’t easy to get started. In Fredericton, food trucks need a class four license – the same as any restaurant. That means four sinks, hook-ups for water and sewer, and a generator. That’s a lot for a small trailer.
“There was a lot of hoops to jump through to get the trailer to that standard. And I can understand it would be difficult for a lot of new businesses and anyone who wanted to open up a food truck to obtain that license,” he said.
And once the truck is up to code – you need to find a place to park.
“You have to have a designated parking spot, you have to have a license for that spot,” said Jonathan Ramirez, owner of Monkey Cakes bakery. “The people that have tried have been regulated to one area and one area only. And a lot of times it’s on the outskirts of town, away from the downtown Monday through Friday worker.”
Ramirez would love to take his cakes on the road. He says the mobility allows chefs to become more creative with their menus, but they have to reach the customers.
“We need to be able to reach the lunch crowd.”
There are two exceptions to the parking spot rule in the city. Trucks are welcomed onto Queen Street during Canada Day and the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. But that’s not enough for someone looking to start or expand a business.
“If I’m going to invest $50,000 to $75,000 and get my truck up and running and up to par, to look good and have a good product, I need to be able to sell out of that truck more than twice a year. More than a festival,” said Ramirez. “We are way behind the times. There are so many communities that have rallied around this.”
Both Ramirez and Rae are hoping to work with the city over the winter. They’d like to see a designated food truck area downtown, where trucks could have a permanent spot, and become a city attraction.
“We’d love to have other food vendors right beside us,” said Rae.”It’s not necessarily competition, but a destination for people to come and get a good lunch for a decent price.”