Red Deer appears to be hungry for more fare offered by food trucks

The street food scene in Red Deer is heating up in popularity with diners craving delectable diversity.

Working in the BBQ Hut at the Red Deer Market Andrew Nabutovsky keeps the eggs cracking as the team of cooks in the truck prepare breakfast for people visiting the market Saturday.

Working in the BBQ Hut at the Red Deer Market Andrew Nabutovsky keeps the eggs cracking as the team of cooks in the truck prepare breakfast for people visiting the market Saturday.

The street food scene in Red Deer is heating up in popularity with diners craving delectable diversity.

While there are not as many food trucks dishing up street eats compared to Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, there’s a definite taste for meals on wheels.

Sisters Barb Maddison and Lynn Olson are die-hard fans of the Food Network’s smash hit Eat St. and never skip Saturdays at the Red Deer Public Market where they devour bacon and egg on a bun for breakfast.

But they would also like to see more food trucks, more often selling eats like Greek and Indian fare, Mexican food, and fish and chips throughout the city.

Olson said food trucks would be a popular draw to places in downtown Red Deer like Ross Street.

Couns. Dianne Wyntjes and Lynne Mulder said they would love to see more food vendors trucks around the city, in the parks and at construction sites serving healthier treats and exposing residents to different foods.

“More brings more people,” said Coun. Cindy Jeffries.

“There’s more opportunity in that. Obviously you don’t want to put the businesses that are there all year round in jeopardy. It’s great for the summer festivals and gatherings.”

Ann Berry, owner of the family-run, The BBQ Hut, has parked at the Red Deer Public Market for five seasons. Her truck caters outdoor events and private functions.

Berry has seen more trucks popping up at festivals and events in the summers.

She thinks there’s a market for food trucks in downtown Red Deer.

“You are not going to buy a smokie at a restaurant,” said Berry, who has owned restaurants in the past.

“I think most food trucks are catering to a different market. It’s a smaller market. We are gearing to the people who are walking around, shopping and want to grab a bite to go. It’s totally a different thing than a sit down. In a restaurant you are waiting. Here you just grab and go.”

The city does not track the number of licences granted each year but city licence inspector Shelley Van Someren said there has been an increase in applications in recent years.

So far this year 14 licences were have been allotted to vendors selling everything from ice cream, smokies, chips, mini donut, barbecue to fish tacos.

“I have seen an increase this year,” Van Someren said. “There’s been lots of phone calls and inquires. I think all the programs on TV are driving the interest and getting people excited and wanting to try it here.”

In order to obtain a food truck or a mobile vending unit/canteen licence, the city requires a picture and general description of the unit, a copy of the health inspection report, a written letter of permission from the owner of a property where they intend to park the truck.

Licences are $110 for residents and $330 for non-residents.

Trucks are not allowed to park on city streets.

Mobile carts that sell food like hotdogs or smokies are permitted on sidewalks but require a use of street permit from the city’s engineering department.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com