Montague restaurant wants seasonal snack trucks to move away

Sir Isaac’s restaurant says proliferation of snack trucks unfairly takes away business from year-round establishments

Steve Sharratt
Published on April 14, 2014

MONTAGUE – A well-known restaurant here may be whipping up P.E.I. burger love this month, but it isn’t getting much back when it comes to the invasion of the snack trucks.

Anne Dewar, owner of Sir Isaac’s restaurant and Mr. Gabe’s Pub, is asking the town to stop the proliferation of snack trucks lining up to surf for business along the town waterfront this summer.

Especially, she says, since they glean the summer cream while she and other food service operators function on a year round basis, employ people, and pay taxes.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Dewar. “And if it keeps up, I may not be able to stay open year round.”

A seasonal fish and chip truck that opened on the waterfront just below her facility last summer is not only eating into her business – but those same customers then walk up the hill to her operation seeking restroom relief.

The businesswoman said there must be something the town can do to prevent trucks with fryers and grills from parking along the waterfront and selling their wares at the peak of the season from June until September.

“All they need is a (provincial) health sticker’’ said Dewar, who operates on the southside of the river. “They don’t need to provide washrooms, seats, or even pay taxes.”

Town council was told it should consider at least regulating such operations to the north side of the waterfront where public washrooms are currently available. It’s expected as many as three snack trucks could show up this year.

“I understand this situation, but we don’t have a vendor policy,’’ said Coun. Jim Bagnall. “And such seasonal operations are under the jurisdiction of the waterfront corporation.”

While the town owns the waterfront and marina, the operations are controlled by a volunteer waterfront corporation, which is now in turmoil since the town is attempting to disband it.

Bagnall encouraged the restaurant owner to take her concerns to the Waterfront Corporation annual meeting Wednesday night. Dewar, whose P.E.I. burger love promotional entry is a past winner, said she has spoken with the group about her plight and so far, has garnered little support.

Dewar led a charge a few years ago against a government signage law which she said was discriminatory. The provincial policy restricted her from advertising her Sir Isaac’s restaurant on anything other than approved government highway signs even though her business was within the town boundaries. She defied the law and parked a pickup truck with a large sign advertising her business at the entrance to the town. The province has since relented and changed the law.

“This fish and chip guy is parking down by the water with a lovely view and next to benches provided by the town for locals and visitors to enjoy….. and I lose business,” said Dewar who hosts a free turkey dinner for those in need every Christmas. “And I expect more (seasonal snack trucks) will be coming this summer.”

Some councillors said a bylaw or policy should be enacted right away.

“We should really look into this,’’ said Coun. Debbie Johnson.

Mayor Richard Collins said the town would take the issue under advisement and await the outcome and opinions of the Waterfront Corporation meeting.