Food trucks gain steam in London due to low overhead and high enthusiasm
Opening a food truck is more viable than a brick and mortar restaurant, says operator
Members of the London Food Truck Association say there's a growing number of entrepreneurs coming onto the scene.
The association was formed in 2017 when 13 operators agreed to park together outside schools and various events. This year, the city confirmed it has received at least 23 applications for refreshment vehicles so far.
"There's not quite as much overhead owning a food truck as there is owning a brick and mortar, where you're tied into a lease or rent and you've got hydro," said Sean Hickey, owner and operator of Big Daddy Bacon. "We're a mobile kitchen and it's a little bit cheaper to start up in this aspect than an actual restaurant."
It wasn't always like this, said Hickey. When he first started out five years ago, the city was stricter with giving out licenses. Then came the two-year struggle of keeping business afloat during pandemic lockdowns.
Things took a more positive turn last season when the public returned for outdoor events. Food truck operators gained a following, and those looking to start a new business took note of the long lineups.
This season, Hickey said, permits from the city are given out "carte blanche" so long as operators abide by protocols and bylaws.
"I think customers realize that we're a part of the city," said Hickey, who estimates there could be as many as 40 trucks in total going into business in 2023.
It may mean more competition for parking space, but Hickey said he's not worried because the food and prices speak for themselves.
He's hopeful the growing local industry may even lead to a festival, like the Canadian Food Truck Festival held annually in Toronto at Woodbine Park, Hickey said.
"It's electric when you walk in and you have an unbelievable array of food that you can choose from," Hickey said of the Toronto event. "It's just crazy. I would love to see that here in London."
The London Food Truck Association keeps an updated schedule of weekly events on its Facebook page. Customers can choose from a variety of donuts, perogies, ice cream, Indian food, Mexican food, grilled cheese and more. Food truck season in London runs from April to the end of the fall.