‘Mumbai 24 hours’: Why food truck owners are not ready to hit the streets all night

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Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, will now officially remain open round-the-clock with the Maharashtra Cabinet approving its ‘Mumbai 24 hours’ policy allowing malls, multiplexes and shops to function day and night from today, January 27.

Tourism Minister and CM Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya Thackeray, who is said to be the prime mover behind the policy is bringing food trucks to the spotlight. Aaditya told PTI, “In the Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point near NCPA, a lane will be opened for food trucks. Food inspectors will keep a watch on them. If rules on solid waste management, decibel limits and law and order are violated, there is provision of a lifetime ban”.

We spoke to popular food truck owners in Mumbai who have been running food trucks around the city for years, and here’s their take on the new move.

Bombay Food Truck that has been operating since 2015 houses a fleet of 3 food trucks. The owner Ashish Sajnani, who is the Founder of The Food Truck Association India and the Director of OPA Hospitality seconds the decision. He states, “It’s a great move and finally to see some legality and permissions and opening up to the concept of food trucks. We are awaiting to read the guidelines and policies and hoping the trucks can function all day in the future.”

Chirag Havelia, who owns a successful venture with his food truck Truckila, says that “It’s a great initiative by making food truck business legit and a reality in the financial capital of India as it would be a revolution in the Hospitality Industry.”

That being said, he asserts that there are certain requirements such as clarity in terms of profitable locations, rules for modification of trucks among others. “Power supply remains an issue, as gas appliances are not allowed for fire safety purpose and using generator costs expensive comparatively. There should be certain standardization for modifications of the vehicle to be followed along with fire safety compliances and hygiene practices. Locations to operate a food truck is still unclear, until official announcement. It should be allowed at private properties, commercial complexes, malls, BMC parks/gardens/grounds, parking areas, tourist spots and other feasible and profitable locations. RTO body transfer process and passing for the modified trucks should be made easy. 24/7 food trucks would be very beneficial for businesses, government and the societies as it has several benefits in various segments”, he adds.

However, for some, owning a food truck as a full time business has been more of a hustle. Running an establishment as a sole proprietor comes with a cost, and since there weren’t any provisions earlier, many food truck owners went out of business.

Sanika Naik, who operated Yummy Wheels around Kandivali, was in business since 2016. After whipping delicacies for three and half years, she decided to shut it down due to harassment issues. “The experience of running a food truck was amazing. We were very happy with the response we got. People in Mumbai always are looking for innovative concepts, food trucks are one of them. We wish this concept was legal here as we had to shut the food truck cause of harassment issues. We soon plan on opening a restaurant with the same menu”, says Naik.

VanderLust, a Bandra favourite, was a food truck run by Rishaad Hirani, who also put a break due to parking worries, wants some solid proof before hitting the streets again. He asserts, “So when I started off it was new and fun but the usual problems started hitting us with permissions and parking, so I moved my operations to only events which wasn’t sustainable throughout the year and eventually had to get out of business, but with this new idea of 24/7 I see a massive potential for food trucks in areas like Mindspace and BKC one. But knowing this administration and government I wouldn’t get back into the business until I see some proof and legal documents saying we now have a green zone for food trucks.”

With the increase of parking woes, an addition of another confused policy might sit well from afar, but with no clear draft available to push business for food trucks or other establishments, the ‘Mumbai 24 hours’ initiative has a long way to go before it gains momentum.

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