Saskatoon meals vans launch business affiliation

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Nine Saskatoon food truck owners have teamed up to create an industry association that they hope will better serve their interests and make event booking easier.

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Alex MacPherson Saskatoon StarPhoenix Erin Sader (right) and Marla Mullie, owner of the Rebel Melt Food Truck, help found the Saskatoon Food Truck Association. Photo by Greg Pender /The StarPhoenix

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Nine Saskatoon food truck owners have teamed up to create an industry association that they hope will better serve their interests and make event booking easier.

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“Over the course of (last) summer, when we got to know the other food truck owners, we realized that it can be good to have a common voice and resources and exchange ideas … event or something, you just state it someone else, ”said Erin Sader, treasurer of the Saskatoon Food Truck Association (SFTA).

Sader and her sister Marissa Venne started selling sandwiches and mini-donuts from their Cocoa Food Inc. truck last June. This spring, Sader helped start the non-profit, volunteer-run association that deals with the city in Questions like getting involved in parking fees and the upcoming redevelopment of Broadway Avenue as well as helping with marketing and business operations.

The SFTA currently has nine members, including Cocoa Food Inc., Rebel Melt, Dapper Dane, and Last Mile Coffee. Membership dues are $ 200 for the first year and “much, much lower” for each year thereafter, Sader said, noting that “99 percent” of the original budget went to building a website.

Food truck associations are common in larger cities, and most of Saskatoon’s owners and operators have been open to the idea, Sader said. Possible benefits for members include: “Nonot only booking events, but also… having a common voice when it comes to getting closer to the city or organizing our own events on behalf of the FTA, ”she added.

The Saskatoon city licensing requirements divide food trucks into two separate categories: on-road and off-road. In 2015, the most recent year for which full data is available, nine food trucks on the road and six off the road were approved for operation in Saskatoon, according to a city spokesman.

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While industry associations that don’t represent the entire industry have the potential to cause problems, the SFTA should be good for the food trucks and good for the city, especially as the number of food trucks grows, according to Saskatoon’s director of community standards. Andreas Hildebrandt.

“This gives the stakeholder group easy access, all topics related to this stakeholder group are centralized … and in this way we get a good snapshot of the wishes and statements of the stakeholders,” said Hildebrandt, noting that the city was working hard on it to carry on opinions from non-members and other stakeholders.

Chuck Prongua is a co-owner of Disco Dogs Gourmet Food Truck, which is not a SFTA member. He said he understood why some food truck owners want an association, but that he was “happy and satisfied” with the current system and saw no business reason for Saskatoon’s first food truck to join.

Prongua said he does not want to “bite the hand that feeds his business” by advocating reduced sales and parking fees at advertised events. While an association could help lower city tolls for on-street parking – which “everyone would love to see” – Disco Dogs is so busy it’s not a priority, he added.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

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