Restaurants vs Street Vendors

By Hina Jasim
 Lucy Screnci, a student at Ryerson University, still enjoys the restaurant experience despite the upcoming popularity of street food.
“I definitely eat at a restaurant more than a street vendor! If I have time, I’d rather go to a restaurant” Screnci said.
Toronto has a variety of places to dine in: restaurants, coffee shops and fast food. Now there’s a new trend and that is street food vendors. People are now having a hard time deciding where and what to eat, especially ones in the Downtown area beucase of the various different choices out there. Despite the vendors having been around for a long time, some are now updating and changing their menus to better serve their customers. This is also because of the impact from street vendors in New York City and Calgary.
Marianne Moroney, the executive director of the Street Food Vendor Association (SFVA) not only runs the organization but also has a hot dog cart in front of Mount Sinai Hospital. With a bachelors degree in theatre and arts, Moroney started out by selling handmade jewelry on University Avenue. After getting questions about the previous hot dog guy, she then decided to do it herself.
“They weren’t interested in my jewelry, they wanted their hot dog” Moroney laughed.
The assocoation was formed in 2007, after a heavy response from the vendors and community.
“The aim of city of hall was firstly to get rid of all the vendors in the city, we started out with 300 and now there are 140 left” Moroney said in anger.
 She added
“It’s a a very popular trend now to have street food, the public definitley wants it” Moroney said happily.
One of the most important factors in picking a street vendor or restaurant in the cleanliness of the place.
Bryan Thompson, the health promotions consultant for Toronto Health has the job of inspecting vendors and restaurants for just that. Everyone in Toronto that sells and promotes food falls under the Health Promotion and Protection Act. It looks at the duty of inspecting the food being served and premise regulations of the location.
“Both restaurant and street vendors need to follow temperature control and sanitation, owners need to follow these of a daily basis” Thompson said sternly.
He went on to explain how street vendors need to store their food properly and protect in from insects and rodents; they need to have a wash basin as well.
“The only difference in the health regulations for a restaurant and vendor is structure. Vendors don’t need to worry about building codes, leasing…They need to look at what type of pre-packaged food they’re using” Thompson said.
According to Thompson, restaurants can sell anything since they have an advantage of having a fridge and freezer to store the food. They have easy acess to hand-washing and a cooking surface to prepare the food.
“My only concern is to make sure the food being served is safe and fine to eat, whether it’s a vendor or restaurant” Thompson said.
According to Moroney, each vendor much pass a food handler certificate program, who allows it to be good for at least five years. There’s police check and public health inspection of the cart and menu. Vendors must have $2 million in liability insurance and they need to have a business license, along with a street permit.
According to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice Association(CRFA) eating out is of the top threee tourist activities in Canada. A survey done by Restaurant Central showed that restaurants have nearly 18 million customers daily. Independant restaurants account for nearly two-thirds of the restaurant market; chains create 71 per cent of traffic and 62 per cent profit.
Both restaurants and vendors in Toronto are seeing a lot of the popularity for street food rising from different cities. For example, Calgary has a new Food Truck program, which started to provide a solution for the many food trucks in the city. No one knew where they could get the street food experience, so the program was created to showcase where people can get street food. Its basis is going on the website and finding if there’s a food truck in your area, especially for street food lovers. Of New York City is the base for street food by selling everything from pretzels, Chinese food and shwarmas.
Chris Szilagyi, the assistant manager of Canyon Creek, an independant restaurant at Scarborough Town Centre loves the idea.
I’ve grown up in the city and been seeing the vendors since then. The roasted peanut guy and the hot dog vendors in Downtown” Szilagyi said happily.
He added,
“Having the street food vendors only enhances the city’s image and brings diversity for the customers.”
He went on to explain the difference with any restaurant and vendor.
“When you’re at a restaurant, you need to maintain a certain repuation, follow a specific menu. Vendors can sell whatever food they want, making your own menu and there’s more freedom” Szyilagyi laughed.
A report from the city of Toronto showed that vendors have been around since the 1600s. The fees for a vendor are baed on how much space is being used. For example, to have a hot dog cart in DOwntown it’s $146, plus 0.75 cents per square foot.
“To have more diversity in the city there needs to be more space available for the vendorsto set up thier carts” Moroney sighed.
There may be a lot of hype of with street food, but there are still a number of people who love going out to a restaurant.
Lucy Srenci is such an example…despite having a hectic daily schedule, the Journalism student loves eating out at restaurants.
“People like more sit-down place,s where they can talk and be warm. I mean in in the colder months, people want to be indoors” Screnci said.
After going to school and work, there are times when Scernci will grab a hot dog.
“I would go to a srreet vendor after going out on Friday night, it’s probably thee only time” Screnci said.
There’s also the important factor what someone sees when they go to a vendor or a restaurant.
“I look at reasonable prices when going to a vendor for hot dog or fries. I look at the type of toppings they have, if they’re fresh and of course drinks!” Screnci laughed.
“Another element of street food are the food trucks in parts of the city, some at Centre Island and ones if front of city hall. Examples like Ken Ho’s snack service, the Blue chip truck and Mr. Tasty Fries.
“I saw the food trucks they have at city hall selling poutine, I think if we continue we can be like street food in New York” Screnci said confidently.
Whether you’re choosing to eat out at a restaurant or a street food vendor, it’s good to know that there are more choices coming about in the restaurant business.

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