In less than two years, the popularity of mobile food vans and pop-up stalls within the city of Adelaide has resulted in more than 50 small businesses trading on our streets.
With the support of the Adelaide City Council, the scene has grown into a thriving, alternative food culture, with organised events like Fork on the Road attracting thousands of people to dine within the city’s parks and squares.
The Council’s focus has always been on creating vibrancy in the city, said Councillor Houssam Abiad, “with a focus on attracting more people to spend more time in the city, and enjoy the city’s surrounds.”
The introduction of draft operating guidelines for mobile food vendors in February this year, attracted great public interest with a record number of submissions (950) made to the Council’s public consultation website, YourSay Adelaide.
The most heated debate has been around capping the number of permits issued to mobile traders at 50, and regulating where mobile vendors can trade within the city.
Argo on the Square cafe owner Daniel Milky said, it was natural for fixed businesses to see that increased competition from mobile food vendors would mean a loss of income, but traders “need to be more creative than that.”
“These food vendors can offer a bit of competition which is good for us to re-evaluate what we are doing within our stores - to look at whether there are any new or innovative ideas - and how we can learn and gain from these vendors.”
"I have no issue with the number [of permits]," he said.
"We want to reduce the barriers [for start-up businesses], but at the same time we want to manage the type of retailers that are coming out."
"The idea is to offer this for the innovators and entrepreneurs to test their concepts in the market-place, but not to allow businesses to come out and keep operating year after year, permit after permit, until they see fit - that then is unfair," he said.
Council deferred making a decision on the proposed guidelines earlier this month, to reconsider the policy in relation to the relative operating costs of mobile vendors, compared to fixed-businesses in the city.
“The most important part of the guidelines for mobile food vendors, is a focus on an even playing ground,” said Councillor Abiad.
“The key issue here is, 'how can we protect the interests of fixed-businesses, while inspiring entrepreneurs to start-up a business within the city,'” he said.
A report providing further rationale behind the number of permits recommended in the guidelines will go to Council mid-May.
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