Food Cart Pods May Be Coming to Vancouver

Photo credit: Ariane Colenbrander | Flickr

Photo credit: Ariane Colenbrander | Flickr

Welcome to the next stage of Vancouver’s street food revolution.

The City of Vancouver is considering the creation of food cart “pods” outside the downtown core, according to the Vancouver Sun – clusters of multiple carts, all nestled together for your snacking convenience.

As anyone familiar with Portland’s food-cart scene knows, this promises to take street eating to a whole new level.  In Portland, pods are everywhere.  Dozens of food carts set up shop side-by-side in parking lots across the city – offering everything from burritos to falafels and kimchi tacos in one location.  Crowds stream in, creating a festive, street-fair atmosphere and boosting business.

Vancouverites have gotten a taste of pod culture in the past.Examples include events like Dine Out Vancouver’s Street Food City and the weekly street food fests once held at the Waldorf.  But the new plan calls for the creation of permanent pods in strategic spots.

It’s quite a leap forward from just a few years ago, when the only food carts on city streets were hot dog and popcorn vendors.  But in 2010, Vancouver instituted a four-year pilot program to test demand for more street food options.  Currently there are 103 permits for carts selling everything from Southern-style barbecue to organic salmon burgers and beer-braised  chicken.  And 12 new operators are slated to be added each of the next two years.

While most operators are assigned to a fixed location, 20 food trucks have mobile permits – enabling them to relocate when needed.  According to Vancouver City Councillor Heather Deal, the next step may be the issuance of special pod licenses to new street food vendors.

For the moment, pods are being considered exclusively for areas outside the downtown core.  Downtown carts, the logic goes, already attract enough foot traffic on their own, whereas carts serving outlying areas could benefit by clustering together and pooling their customer base.

Would you like to see food cart pods in Vancouver?  Weigh in below.  

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8 Responses to Food Cart Pods May Be Coming to Vancouver

  1. Sharon

    Would definitely LOVE to see this in Vancouver – was at the Food Festival at Oregon last summer and it would be so fun to see something like that come to Vancouver!

  2. tatiana

    Come to Fraser Street. We have huge parking lots where the carts can station

  3. Zia

    This is delicous news!
    I loved going to the Food Cart Fest at the Waldorf (RIP) last summer. I was worried after the Waldorf closed we’d lost this event, but now I am very excited at the potential of making it a regular thing.

  4. Kathy

    This would be awesome! Come to Victoria Drive :)

  5. I worked in downtown Portland as the food cart movement was starting to take off, and noticed several remarkable things as a result of the pods.

    People left their desks for lunch. Streams of people would make their way to the cart pod, often in small groups, making lunch social again.

    The carts provided mostly healthier options than what had been the only places to get lunch before their arrival, improving palates as well as, you would hope, wellness.

    People began experimenting with food, going outside their comfort zones. Tired of the teriyaki at a Japanese cart? Well, there are Bosnian meatballs next door. Or a simple Thai chicken up the road that you might not think interesting until you hear from others that it’s awesome. I believe this experimentation helped the city’s restaurant scene, creating an appetite not just for new and BETTER foods but new places to get that food.

    Everybody became a foodie, proud to support the city as a place where good food happens.

    The downtown core became a destination, as cheap fast food chains were driven out by a higher standard of eatery. Today in Portland’s downtown there are fine restaurants like Gruner and Little Bird, fine diners like Bunk and Tasty and Alder and healthy sit-down-but-fast options like Veggie Grill.

    An expanding business ecosystem feeding into the growth the cart movement.

    All good. Go for it, Vancouver.

  6. Good point about Portland. Honestly, I think having those food cart pods are a great thing. They’re all huddled into one area and it makes it easy to find the type of cuisine you crave. It’s a great option for those busy weekdays when you only have a few minutes to grab a bit to eat too.

  7. Kathleen

    FWIW, there is now a mobile food conference planned for 2013. It’ll be in Portland.

  8. Heard about this. Likely there will be some members from our groups in attendance. Becoming our own culture!