Food truck owners, now serving health staff, envision a summer of open-air eating

One solution to the era of social distancing is so obvious that it’s already been helping in urgent situations, say its supporters: food trucks.

A few trucks have already been serving food to busy Quebec healthcare staff, and now their owners are waiting to hear from Montreal municipal staff if they can start bigger operations over the summer.

“It's really easy to bring a truck somewhere and open it,” says Gaelle Cerf of the Quebec Food Truck Association.

“I see the trucks as a really interesting solution right now, because they could just go park in a parking lot and [serve] for two hours.”

In fact, some have already been on the road, even while restaurants and most businesses must stay closed.

“We've had some trucks in the last four weeks going to feed health workers and the army and CHSLDs in Laval and Gatineau,” said Cerf in an interview with CTV on Friday. 

“There are a couple of trucks up and running doing delivery.”

Twelve more could be rolling within a week, if given the green light to start serving, she said. “They just need spots [where they can] work.”

The food truck association had a meeting at Montreal City Hall on Thursday and explained its position.

"It's looking good,” said Cerf.

“Obviously we want to follow the public health regulations, so it's going to be slow,” she said, but food truck owners are envisioning a somewhat normal-feeling operation over the summer, with terrasse-like areas, drive-through pickup, and safe conditions for workers.

Cerf said she empathizes with brick-and-mortar restaurant owners, who are in a much more stressful situation, with much higher expenses and less ability to reopen at capacity. But she says this season is a time when maybe, between the two industries, they can help fulfill the public’s need to get out of the house.

“Hopefully there will be some restaurants slowly reopening by the end of June,” she said. “We'll be able to keep feeding the people and making people happy.”

Food trucks would need to make some adjustments, she said, like having one or two cooks at a time, and asking people to pre-pay and pre-order to cut down on lineups.

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