The owners of a Telkwa food truck are fighting back against a move to have them blocked from parking near the Telkwa Pub.
At its April 13 regular meeting, council heard from pub owner Lonny Carroll, who said she has a number of problems with the Quick Eats truck, including patrons parking in her lot, using her washrooms and creating unsightly garbage.
Al Zittlau, Quick Eats co-owner with wife Evelyn, counters all of these complaints noting that parking was disrupted last season because of construction along the dyke. As for garbage, he said they regularly scout and clean up garbage around the area, whether it is from their truck or not.
Primarily, though, Carroll believes the truck impacts her sales and has an unfair advantage.
“My issue with them is they’re seasonal, they come in at the busiest time of the year, take a majority of my business, they have no overhead, no rules, no anything to abide by and my question is, is there anything that’s going to change with this moving forward,” she said.
Zittlau also objects to that because they are only open four days a week until 7 p.m. and their customers are primarily families. If anything, he said, they are good for the pub’s business because they bring people into the area.
“I do not believe we are any threat to the pub,” he wrote in a letter to council. “If anything, I would guess we increase their off-sales (people like a drink while they eat). Sometimes people come to our location and go over for a pint after, or they walk to the ice cream shop for a cone.”
In fact, Zittlau has a vision that the area could be a vibrant little hub of business along the lines of Prince Rupert’s Cow Bay, which he believes would benefit everyone.
He said he is very sympathetic to Carroll’s plight with the impact of COVID-19, but thinks it is unfair to blame it on the food truck.
At the April 13 meeting, council directed staff to come back with a report on the current regulations and an analysis of what other communities do to regulate food trucks with respect to fees, licences, approved locations etc. with a view to perhaps moving Quick Eats to another location.
But the Zittlaus do not want to move, noting they buy a business licence, pay rent to the village and follow all the regulations, which currently state mobile vendors must be more than 30 metres from fixed eating establishments. Their location last year was 50 metres from the pub according to a satellite image prepared by Lev Hartfeil, director of operations.
Zittlau also objected to the fact they got no notice of the pub’s delegation on the 13th, nor of the follow-up discussion at the April 27 meeting, which could negatively affect them financially.
“We’ve already spent thousands of dollars getting ready for the season,” he said.
In a report to council at the April 27 meeting, Rowena Atienza-Paquette, director of finance, reported Quick Eats pays for a $45 pro-rated business licence for seasonal mobile vendors and $200 per month in rent.
She noted these fees are based on the 2013 commercial rate and council may want to review the rates and adjust them for 2022.
She said council is interested in finding a solution that supports both businesses during the challenging times created by the ongoing pandemic. She recommended council approve Eddy Park as the new location for Quick Eats.
But Zittlau doesn’t want that location, which he said is out of sight.
Council once again tabled the discussion asking staff to come back with more information on what other communities charge mobile vendors in fees and rent.
Coun. Leroy Dekens said it is a matter of wanting to create a level playing field between mobile and fixed vendors.
But Zittlau wants Dekens recused from the discussion altogether saying the councillor is also a business owner who rents space to Olivia’s Café and is therefore is in a conflict of interest position.
Dekens declined to comment.
Zittlau also took umbrage with previous comments made by Dekens.
“We have to protect our businesses,” the councillor said at the April 13 meeting.
“We’ve been a Telkwa business for 10 years,” Zittlau said.