Food fight brews

A FOOD fight is bubbling away between some established eateries and the popular mobile food vans popping up around Launceston.

Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Cahoon

Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Cahoon

The Launceston City Council established the mobile food vendors operating on public roads policy in January.

Under the policy, vans stationary for longer than 15 minutes cannot enter the central business district or sell within 200 metres of a fixed take-away food business, operating at the same time, without their permission.

Vendors must also pay $342 for an annual permit.

However, vans can operate from privately owned car parks.

This has seen Eats with Beats set up in the car park next to Saint John Craft Beer a few evenings a week and Tacos de Pancho carried out a lunchtime trial in a Brisbane Street car park, but has since stopped.

Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Cahoon said she had received about 10 complaints from businesses over the past six months.

``There's definitely a place for food vans, I want that to be clear, but they do have an unfair advantage - they don't have the overhead costs other businesses do and something needs to be worked out,'' she said.

Eats with Beats owner Synjon Fraser said it was not trying to compete with established businesses as it had a different market.

He said people who visited the bar had the option to buy something to eat while they drank, but they did not offer the sit-down experience you would pay for at a restaurant.

``Bricks and mortar restaurants are charging $25 to $30 for a meal, I'm charging $12,'' he said.

He said he would serve about 60 people over a week, much less than a sit-down restaurant.

He also said he had to abide by all the same council laws and occupational health and safety regulations despite operating a much smaller business.

Saint John Craft Beer owner Ryan Campling said he was happy to help another new business establish in Launceston and a little bit of competition was healthy for the community.

Tacos de Pancho owner Marcus Dornauf said he found the lunchtime Brisbane Street trial was not as successful as their regular High Street set-up.

Mr Dornauf said he and the owner of another van, Burger Junkie, often operated together in High Street to give people options as well a create a family-friendly atmosphere.

Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said it would be discussing a new mobile food van policy with aldermen at a committee meeting in the near future.

``We're concerned to strike a balance between protecting the interests of food retailers who have shops in the city and also providing some cultural diversity in areas where they are not directly competing with retailers,'' he said.

``So it's about determining the appropriate distances licences should be issued for and how long a food van should be allowed to stay in one spot and, ultimately, how we balance these things.''

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