Jason Faria operates Next Gen Concessions and Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival. (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Black Press Media)

Jason Faria operates Next Gen Concessions and Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival. (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Black Press Media)

FOOD

‘Kicked out’ of Surrey, food trucker motors on with drive-thru festival this spring

April festival dates planned in Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and Cloverdale

The pandemic has been a bumpy road for food truck operators, with mass gatherings not allowed.

Jason Faria, who runs Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival as a venture related to his family’s Next Gen Concessions, works with close to 75 independently operated trucks in a typical year.

“In the industry as a whole, we saw around 20 per cent of food trucks either close last year or change hands, because they just couldn’t make it through the environment, with very few events planned,” Faria said.

With five food trucks of his own, Faria says the business was essentially forced out of Surrey in 2019, a year before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

The issue, he says, was having the trucks parked on his family’s South Surrey property, located not far from Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

“We moved to Langley because the city kicked us out,” Faria charged. “By having food trucks, we were violating a bylaw with having them parked on our property, and you couldn’t even see them behind the house. Someone complained, and we fought tooth and nail with the city, and they sent bylaw officers to our house almost daily.

“We had no intention of leaving, but we’re in Langley now, where I grew up.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2017: Some ‘crazy’ food at PNE, thanks to Surrey vendor with long history at summer fair.

Over the years, Next Gen has been a staple at events such as the PNE, where the company has set up trucks selling corndogs, cotton candy, candied apples, funnel cakes and other high-calorie treats.

Last June, Jason Faria figured he’d try a drive-thru model for the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival, which was launched six years previous.

(Story continues below video)

For 2021, a “Spring Drive-Thru Series” was rolled out in Chilliwack last weekend (March 27-28), with other events planned in Abbotsford (at Tradex, April 3-4), Maple Ridge (Planet Ice, April 10-11) and Cloverdale Fairgrounds (April 24-25).

A typical food truck festival event planned by Faria features dozens of trucks, but a drive-thru gathering has enough space to accommodate just eight or nine trucks.

“Those first events we did drive-thru style last year, people were just happy just to get out of their house and have an event to go to,” Faria recalled. “It’s funny because some people actually preferred the drive-thru model, because they didn’t have to stand outside a truck waiting to get their food, they could wait in their cars, in comfort.”

Ultimately, the modified festival allowed some food truck operators to survive, Faria said.

“But it definitely wasn’t what it was before,” he noted, “when you take away 20 food trucks that used to be there, because of space limitations, and take away the live music, beer gardens, roaming entertainment, all that stuff, it’s a different event.

At each event, food trucks are rotated in and out of the daily lineup, giving “foodies” something new each time. The featured trucks are posted to Facebook and other social media channels, and also to greatervanfoodtruckfest.com.

Finding suitable space for such a festival isn’t easy in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, Faria said.

“The private property that is available, like casinos, a lot of them just aren’t willing to do anything because it’s a drop in the bucket for them, the money we’re able to pay them, it’s really nothing to them,” he said.

As an event operator, Faria said one of biggest challenges is the interpretation of provincial health orders – of what’s right and wrong, what’s allowed and what’s not.

“Some of it is in a grey area,” he explained, “and there’s all sorts of communication between the bylaw officers and health authorities, all the way up, and sometimes things get lost in the interpretation. It’s really challenging, because someone in Surrey may interpret things one way and a person in Abbotsford thinks it means something else.”

This year, he said live music is “being explored” for the drive-thru events.

“We’re very cautious of what we tell people,” Faria said. “We mentioned the phrase ‘live music’ last year and we had Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office contact us direct saying we can’t do that.

”We just want to be able to do what we do, get these food trucks going again and give people something to do, those who’ve been cooped up in their homes for so long, before they go crazy,” Faria added. “We believe we are providing a safe environment for this.”

At the Chilliwack event on Sunday, March 28, strong winds played havoc. “Our first event of the year brought broken trucks, hail, wind, tents in trees, sore feet and a lot of happy tummies,” says a post on the festival’s Facebook page.

For the Abbotsford stop on Easter weekend, some of the food trucks rolled out include Dim Sum Express, Hunky Bills Perogies, Lenny’s Lemons, Reel Mac & Cheese, Wings Outdoor Grill, Beavertails, Salt Spring Noodle Bar and others.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

FoodFood and Drink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

web
Mission mayoral candidate – Rhett Nicholson

Candidates answer three questions about issues impacting Mission

Cheam meadows trail near Mt. Cheam by Chilliwack. (Submitted)
Cheam First Nation ‘shocked’ over all-season mountain resort proposal near Chilliwack

For five years the band has been working on a gondola project of their own

web
UPDATE: Fire investigators on scene at Mission Walmart

Fire department has yet to rule out whether it was intentionally set

Patrick Penner photo.
Southbound crash on Abbotsford-Mission Bridge

Crash involves dump truck and at least one other vehicle, emergency crews on scene

web
Mission mayoral candidate – Paul Horn

Candidates answer three questions about issues impacting Mission

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
P.1 variant likely highest in B.C. due to more testing for it: Dr. Henry

Overall, just under 60% of new daily cases in the province involve variants

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read