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While it’s still mostly hot dog carts, Winnipeg’s food cart culture has started to move beyond wieners and is now offering Filipino, Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine.
But take a moment to imagine a Winnipeg with even more food trucks and food choices, located in different areas (you know, beyond Broadway) of our food-loving city.
More of these lunch wagons are a way to improve Winnipeg - and not just because of the food itself.
Portland, Oregon is the food cart mecca. In a city with approximately the same population as Winnipeg (although much less spread out), Portland is home to over 500 food carts.
People are crazy about carts because they’re often cheaper and quicker than a typical lunch out.
Food carts also make it possible for local chefs to tap into the food market without having to own a full-fledged restaurant.
In Portland, food carts are so popular that, despite their portable nature, it’s the crowds that flock to them, not the other way around.
Could Winnipeg support more food carts?
Yes, of course.
In Portland, food carts usually establish themselves in groups on surface parking lots.
We all know there’s no shortage of surface parking lots in downtown Winnipeg. Imagine some of those filled with delicious food options, little patios and bright lights.
That way, Winnipeg’s lunch wagons could establish themselves beyond the Broadway business people and the Old Market Square festival crowds.
More food carts in Winnipeg could improve food choices, use of surface parking lots and the local economy. Plus, ‘Peggers love to eat and we often brag about the variety of food available in our city anyway.
So what’s holding us back?
A lot of red tape, that’s what.
There are rules regarding health and safety and where exactly food trucks can be parked (they have to be at least 60 feet away from any other restaurant).
Still, the word on the street is that these bylaws may change, so stay tuned for more food carts.
Part of the series: The Urban Issue 2013
Published in Volume 67, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 28, 2013)