BIA supports ‘special circumstance’ food truck

 In Business

The Creemore BIA board voted in favour Tuesday of supporting chef Otta Zapotocky’s proposal to establish a food truck in the downtown area recognizing ‘special circumstances.’

Zapotocky’s restaurant, La Cucina, was destroyed by the fire at 157 Mill St. in December. Since then, the four-year Creemore resident and restaurateur has been catering and working out of Station on the Green on Saturdays.

“While convenient, it has not proven sustainable,” wrote Zapotocky in his correspondence with the BIA. “To maintain our livelihood, we have come up with a plan to run a temporary mobile kitchen, or food truck, to take the place of our sit-down, licensed restaurant.”

Zapotocky, who is a member of the BIA, has made an application to the Township of Clearview for a vendor’s permit. According to Clearview Township’s Vending Bylaw, no vendor shall be permitted within an area surrounding the Creemore Business Improvement Area jurisdiction without a recommendation approving the location by the Creemore BIA.

The La Cucina food truck has been ordered with delivery scheduled for next month. Zapotocky hopes to be up and running by the Victoria Day long weekend.

He said the food truck is a temporary fix until he can get back into the restored restaurant, hopefully in 2025.

The BIA has pushed back against food trucks in Creemore in the past and board members shared ongoing concerns at the April 25 meeting. Members are concerned about unfair competition, duplication of services, aesthetics and the creation of extra garbage. Most of all, members are concerned about setting a precedent that will open Creemore up to more food tucks.

In a survey of BIA businesses, of 17 respondents, almost all of food providers said they are against the food truck while alomost all retailers are in favour.

“We are not trying to take away a business from our neighbours and friends, we are just trying to make a living during these difficult times and enhance our town’s experience,” said Zapotocky in his application.

He told board members he is willing to fill in gaps, opening when some other food providers are closed. He said he does not intend to be parked in one location all of the time. He is planning to move around the township, offering a menu using as many ultra local ingredients as possible. He has permission to set up at Station on the Green, adjacent to Creemore Village Green, and Creemore Foodland.

“It was devastating to hear of the fire that destroyed Otta’s business some time ago. As a fellow business owner I can’t imagine the stress and frustration with losing your business overnight like that and I have admired the great efforts and lengths Otta has gone through to continue supporting and serving our community while struggling to keep his livelihood going,” wrote Creemore Foodland owner Sim Spry in a letter of support. “Otta has always been a big supporter of this community, he is one of the best and most consistent customers in my store and has always been a great promoter of local business in Creemore. I’m more than happy to help Otta get his temporary kitchen going and am happy to offer both space in the parking lot and the use of our washroom facilities as needed for his customers.”

Zapotocky thanked BIA members for their support this year and for supporting his application, despite some trepidation.

“I won’t let you down guys, believe me,” said Zapotocky.

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