Winnipeg food trucks brace for winter

Neither sleet, nor snow, nor wind chill will keep a small but hearty bunch of Winnipeg entrepreneurs from city streets this winter.

Handful of new foodtrucks to remain open throughout winter months

Brendan Orr and Kevin Hoban of On A Roll food truck will stay open this winter. (Robin Summerfield)

Neither sleet, nor snow, nor windchill will keep a small but hearty bunch of city entrepreneurs from city streets this winter.

Frozen water pipes? Well, that’s another matter altogether.

“The only thing that will stop us are the trucks or the (lack of) customers,” said Vilai Pinasouc, owner of Vilai’s Spice Box.

Vilai Pinasouc, owner of Vilai’s Spice Box hopes to stay open all winter. (Robin Summerfield)
Her food truck, which debuted in June, is one of several mobile restaurants that plan to remain open year round in Winnipeg, however cold and snowy it gets outside.

On A Roll and Tots Wheels, two more new food trucks on city streets, will also remain open for business.

For safety reasons, five vents and one front window must remain open at all times in Vilai’s Spice Box to ensure air circulation around propane-fired equipment, Pinasouc says.

One heater is already installed to prevent her water pipes from freezing. She will add two more to keep herself warm.
Brendan Orr and Kevin Hoban own On A Roll food truck. (Robin Summerfield)
Over at On A Roll, employees Brendan Orr and Kevin Hoban have a similar cold-fighting strategy.

The pair will keep toasty with “hoodies and space heaters,” said Orr. But they also have a secret weapon. They will be making soup and sandwiches inside a new, winterized trailer. The trailer, which is insulated throughout, replaces their summer-only food truck.

Both Pinasouc and the On A Roll guys hope to increase the number of catering jobs and offer pre-ordering so customers can pick up their food quickly without waiting in the cold.

While the hearty few promise to stay open, others have parked for the season.

The Red Ember’s last day is Saturday at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. Chef and owner Steffan Zinn, also a new dad to a 11-week-old son, is ready for a break.

But he’s already planning for summer 2014. On his family’s farm south of Winnipeg, Zinn has harvested more than 2,800 pounds of tomatoes for his house-made pizza sauce. When all the harvesting and cooking is done, Zinn will have about 1,280 litres of sauce for the 2014 food truck season.

Pinasouc’s season isn’t stopping, but she is also realistic about Winnipeg winters.

Will Vilai’s Spice Box stay on the road all winter? “That’s my goal.” But does she think she can do it? “Realistically,” she said with a long pause, “I hope so.”

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