Just a few years ago, you had better odds of finding a moose roaming Saskatoon’s streets than a food truck. Now, people only have to walk a few blocks downtown to get your fill.
From Scout Mex Hall to Thrive Juice Co., businesses are starting to shed the ‘street meat’ stereotype. People can buy burgers, hot dogs, burritos, vegan burritos, cold-pressed juice and much more.
Two Scout customers, Jonathan Davo and Mariana Gonzalez, said it’s about time Saskatoon started to embrace street food.
“We grew up in Mexico, so street food is a must ever where and I think it’s just in our blood at this point,” Davo said, laughing.
“I think it’s finally coming to Saskatoon, which we’re really happy about,” Gonzalez said. “We were thinking that’s what Saskatoon needed for a while and I think a couple people had the guts to be able to start it up.”
Sierra McCaan, owner of Scout Mex Hall, said she dove into the food truck industry with the desire of providing something different.
Customers line up at Scout Mex Hall on Broadway Avenue. (Peter Mills/CBC)
This winter, McCaan bought a truck in Vancouver, drove it back to Saskatoon, and a new food truck staple was born.
“People have been pretty stoked on it,” McCaan said. “I haven’t gotten any negative feedback. I was worried that the menu, I wanted it to be like adventurous and open to different diets, but not too crazy that people didn’t want to approach the food truck. I think we kind of struck a balance there. There’s something for everyone dietary wise, but also like taste wise.”
McCaan said Saskatoon is still playing catch-up when it comes to food truck businesses.
“Everywhere else in the world has been repping street food in some fashion,” she said. “Canada is way behind on that and Saskatoon was behind in Canada. Regina has more food trucks than we do, I think. But it allows you to try different food at a reasonable price because we’re on the street like this. And so hopefully Saskatoon works to keep food trucks affordable for small businesses so we can give interesting, well-made food at a lower price than a restaurant.”
Owners embrace friendly competition
While the rules governing food trucks have been debated many times in city hall, food truck owners in Saskatoon are keeping business cordial.
Maile Crowe and Danica Slattery, co-owners of Thrive Juice Co., said you won’t see any food trucks wars in the city.
“We’re all buddies with each other and it’s nice when we park close to each other because more people come out,” Crowe said. “Nobody is really in competition and we just feel like a little posse at times. It’s super fun.”
There a number of city bylaws dictating where a food truck can operate. For example, they must be at least 20 metres away from permanent restaurants. Crowe and Slattery would like to see fewer restrictions.
Maile Crowe and Danica Slattery, co-owners of Thrive Juice Co. (Peter Mills/CBC)
“It would be nice if more people could be in a row because I know we tried to do that for Jazz Festival and that didn’t work,” Crowe said.
“It would be nice if there was a little spot for food trucks to park for a day and to be able to put out some seating and stuff like that for people to come walk around,” Slattery said. “I know there’s things like that in other cities.”
Saskatoon’s food trucks will soon have a festival named in their honour. The first annual Street Meet festival will be held on Sept. 6.
New bike on the block
Countless kids in Saskatoon remember the sound of bells coming down the block, which was immediate followed by begging their parents for money before the Dickie Dee rolled by.
A brand new mobile food service, Drift Cycle Ice Pops, is hoping to recreate that feeling.
Drift Cycle Ice Pops is cruising around Saskatoon’s streets for the first time this afternoon. Much like Thrive Juice, Samantha Benesh, a representative with Drift Cycle, said their goal is to provide a fresh, healthy product.
“We’re not just your traditional popsicle,” Benesh said. “They’re all original and great flavours such as banana cardamom. I made some watermelon mint last night. Some strawberry rhubarb with locally grown rhubarb, of course. And we want to try and access locally grown food as the summer moves on.”
Benesh said their ice pops bike is also leading the way for their next venture, Drift Cafe, which is expected to open in Riversdale in fall.
Where are they today?
The majority of food trucks post their location, menus, and photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
People wanting to find their favourite food trucks can also visit Snack Map.