Kitsilano’s Roaming Dragon an exception in Vancouver’s street-food fiasco


Today in the Globe & Mail Robert Matas covers Vancouver’s street-food screw-up and Kitsilano’s Roaming Dragon looks like the only winner.

Roaming Dragon opened for business this week, offering a tantalizing choice of Asian duck confit salad, Japanese chicken karaage, Korean short rib tacos and Chinese pork belly sliders.

The sleek new food-vending truck, parked a stone’s throw from popular Kitsilano Beach, is the first street vendor in Vancouver to offer more than hot dogs under a much-anticipated pilot project intended to inject a bit of sophistication and fun into the city’s street culture.

But the project has hit a rough spot. None of the 17 winners in city hall’s lottery for locations is expected to meet Saturday’s much-anticipated deadline for opening. Roaming Dragon, which was not one of the winners, managed to open only by finding a winner to pay for use of the site.

The street-food project has degenerated into a money grab by some businessmen trying to sell their prized locations for exorbitant prices. Matas also reports that the lottery for spaces may not have drawn as much interest as the city claims as some businessmen had family and friends put in applications on their behalf in an effort to improve their chances of winning spaces. Winners who were placeholders had no intentions of ever opening a business at the locations.

And the city may not have the variety of food it anticipated: The lottery winners are free to change their menus to whatever they wish.

Looks like Kits Beach lucked out on this project with Roaming Dragon though. Owners Jason Apple and Jory Simkin had been working on their business plan for months. Their specially designed $150,000 truck is fitted with wireless to expedite ordering, point-of-sale technology connected to the Internet and up-to-date appliances.

Last modified: July 30, 2010

2 Responses to " Kitsilano’s Roaming Dragon an exception in Vancouver’s street-food fiasco "

  1. With the possibility of a smooth launch squandered, the city has rested the success of it’s vendor program squarely on the businesses themselves.
    It remains unclear how many of the permit winners have the experience and determination to make it work.
    Rumours of permit re-selling and other shady practices are abound online.
    In an environment where a taco truck loses out to a lemonade stand, a clear winner in this mess is hard to see.