The proprietors of North Vancouver’s burgeoning brewery district say the city needs to loosen up its bylaws and allow more food trucks on nearby streets.
Ryan Scholz, owner of the soon-to-be-opened Shaketown Brewing at Esplanade and St. Andrews Avenue, said the North Vancouver beer scene is thriving but the industrial nature of the Brewery District between Lonsdale and St. Patricks avenues, means there’s not much nearby when customers want a nosh.
In its food truck policy, which was adopted three years before the Brewery District was approved, the city set eight locations where food truck owners may apply to operate but none are close to the Brewery District.
“The bylaws were made before the Brewery District came in and now the Brewery District has sort of gone off like wildfire, which is great for the area,” Scholz said. “We obviously have the crowds. It's packed. We have [Vancouver’s North Shore Craft Beer Week] named after us. I think the one thing that's missing is food.”
Like most, Shaketown will not have room for a full-service kitchen amid the massive kettles and mash tuns needed for brewing on site.
“At the end of the day, space is king,” Scholz said. “It would have affected us as a business from a manufacturing standpoint to lose 3,000 square feet for a kitchen.”
From a health perspective, it’s far better for people to go brewery hopping on a full tummy, Scholz said.
Simon Koldyk, Streetcar Brewing owner, said he recently pitched the city on a plan to establish a new permanent chicken wing truck outside his brewery but the process is too daunting, he found.
“Basically they want us to rezone the entire property to be able to do it,” he said. “Multiple cities have sort of done it. Port Moody is the biggest example. You have Brewers’ Row and, constantly, you know can go down there and there are at least a couple of food trucks right outside.”
Gino Di Domenico, founding partner of Tacofino, one of the original food trucks on the West Coast, said he approached the city about expanding food truck options but also had little progress.
“I just think that there's a massive opportunity in that Shipyards Brewery District,” he said. “There are bunch of food trucks currently in Vancouver that are operating and just looking for new markets to go to.”
Other businesses in the area, many of which are auto mechanics, may need street parking more than they need bulgogi tacos, Scholz conceded. But he said the city could be creative in where it allows the trucks to park.
“Even just one or two, it'd be a great start,” he said. “I think there's enough space to do something.”
In a statement, City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan hinted change may be coming.
“Craft brewing contributes greatly to a vibrant and prosperous community. I am glad to hear that breweries in the community are working together to advance new opportunities that will further animate commercial areas,” she said. “Council is already expecting an update from staff in the coming months around the food truck regulations and how we can further support businesses in the city.”
There are now more than a dozen breweries and distilleries in business in North Vancouver. In addition to Shaketown, the Brewery District will soon be adding Windfall Cider and Copperpenny Distilling.