Some of Melbourne's most popular food trucks will begin trading around the CBD from Wednesday as part of a three-month trial that acknowledges their growing role in the city's foodie culture.
A dozen vans including Taco Truck and Gumbo Kitchen will be allowed to serve their takeaway fare - such as burgers, po' boys, pizza and dumplings at selected sites near city parks - away from existing and established restaurants and take-out venues.
"Food trucks have come a long way from the roadside doughnut stands and fried-food caravans of yesteryear," Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said.
He described gourmet food vans as "a defining part of the culinary scene" in global cities such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London. "Melbourne’s food trucks are some of the best in the business and are an important part of what makes us Australia’s culinary capital," Cr Doyle said.
Other food trucks given the temporary green light include Happy Camper Pizza, Mr Burger and Banh Mi Boys.
The vans need planning approval before serving street-side, and have caused controversy in the Docklands and some inner suburbs because traders and residents have objected to their presence.
Yarra City Council, for instance, introduced new rules for mobile food vans in May 2013, which allowed them to operate under rules that trucks must not be located closer than 100 metres from an existing take away food business, unless it was shut.
Other councils have similar rules around the vans.
Melbourne City Council has allowed a dozen food van operators to operate in three shifts – breakfast, lunchtime and dinner – at seven sites until August. "The sites we have selected have potential to be popular, without putting them in direct competition with nearby restaurants and businesses," said councillor Kevin Louey, the chair of the council’s economic portfolio. He said the operators were chosen on criteria including the quality of the food, their originality, established popularity and the standard of their vans.
Cr Louey said the popularity of food trucks had grown rapidly, but he said it was important the vans not compete with existing businesses that had much higher overheads.
The food trucks will operate in alternate shifts at seven vacant street trading sites:
- outside National Gallery of Victoria (St Kilda Road)
- on the east side of St Kilda Road, near the Floral Clock and adjacent to Walkers Fountain; opposite the Victorian College of the Arts.
- Boathouse Drive, Melbourne, east of the bollards
- Birdwood Avenue, near Shrine of Remembrance
- Landsdowne Street, 50m north of Wellington Parade
- Linlithgow Ave, adjacent to the King George V Memorial
- East side of Birdwood Ave; outside Gate D of the Royal Botanic Gardens
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