This Sunday the Waldorf hotel hosted Vancouver’s first food cart fest, bringing together a collection of some of Vancouver’s hottest food carts. I was excited about the event, as it promised to be a little bit similar to Portland’s outstanding food cart pods.
Portland, Oregon is known to be the leading city in North America for street food, and for good reason. Hundreds of carts pepper its streets ,and in several places come together into clusters called pods. At a pod, a person can try a number of different foods, or a group of people can get together for a meal and not necessarily have the same thing. Portland’s food cart pods create a vibrant urban food experience at the same time as they provide an interesting and easy to initiate business opportunity.
Though I love Portland’s pods, I wasn’t sure they would work in Vancouver. In Portland the pods are often in private surface parking lots, and we don’t have as many locations available. Our regulations for street food are different, though that has been changing. More importantly, Portland is a very walkable city, with significant light rail transit, and pods tend to be located in places where a lot of foot traffic is present throughout the day. Could a pod generate enough business in a car dependent city such as Vancouver?
If today was any indication, business for a food cart pod isn’t going to be a problem. The fest was packed with people sampling street food and enjoying the weather. The Waldorf isn’t in a particularly vibrant location (though that is changing slowly), and yet enough people came out to completely swamp the food carts taking part. The city is in for a summer of tasty Sundays, and the future for food carts looks bright.