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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why so many Toronto food trucks are becoming restaurants

Toronto has more food trucks on its streets than ever before. You can indulge your cravings for ice cream, cupcakes, Ethiopian food and stuffed chicken wings thanks to these mobile restaurants that show up and park all across the city both at the curbside and pre-planned events and festivals.

But lately, it seems like many of the four-wheelers are putting on the brakes to open bricks and mortar eateries. It started with food truck-turned-restaurants such as Gourmet Gringos and Fidel Gastro's (which runs Lisa Marie) and continues as more and more trucks continue to announce their plans to open up permanent locations.

Kristin Butler says the transition was inevitable. She and her husband run Eva's Original Chimneys, a truck that serves Hungarian kürtőskalács, a type of pastry. After they debuted their so-called doughnut cones this year, customers ate their concept right up.

“We have to be open every day to meet customer demand. So that’s what really pushed us to open a storefront,” says Butler.

Their store, which is slated to open this February, will be located at 454 Bloor St. W., in the Annex - an area Butler chose thanks to its high foot traffic. 

She says this location will serve as their homebase and commissary and will also let Torontonians and visitors grab a doughnut cone whevever a craving sets in. 

“We get a lot of messages on Instagram, and even a lot of emails saying, 'Where can I find you today? Where can I find you today"? notes Kristin, who even gets inquiries from out-of-towners who are coming to the city for a few days. Soon, she'll be able to give them a definitive answer.

Toronto's other kürtőskalács truck is also going the bricks and mortar route. After the founders of Chimney Stax, Matt Lindzon and Zach Fiskel, appeared on Dragon's Den, they teamed up with Joe Mimran and are in the process of opening kiosks in places like shopping centres in Toronto and beyond.

Fellow food truck Burgatory also opened a restaurant this year, along with others, like the M.E.N.U. Food Truck (which opened Pokito with Bake Code) and Sushitto.

Alexei Van Peteghem, who runs Burgatory with his mom, says that with their restaurant, the food truck helps augment business and vice versa.

The food truck business is seasonal, but now they can remain active all year round. They never sold curbside and Van Peteghem says he can now be pickier about which festivals and events chooses to attend.

Sebastian Galluci, on the other hand, is just getting out of the food truck business now. He's in the process of selling his truck Che, which he ran for two seasons, and is looking at spaces in order to open up his own Argentinian-style snack bar.

"In my opinion, I think a food truck is a great way to start a business and get out there and meet people. I mean, you can be anywhere, right?” he says.

This past weekend he took over the kitchen at Churchill for a two-day pop-up. On Friday, he says he sold out by 9 p.m. Now, he plans to travel around Argentina in January, visiting family as well as plenty of restaurants for inspiration.

“For me," he says, "the food truck was like a stepping stone. My goal was to open a place."

It seems like that was the end game for many of his fellow food truckers too.

by Amy Grief via blogTO

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