Food trucks roll into R+T park

The David Johnston Research + Technology Park north of campus has welcomed United Food Trucks Unlimited (UFT), to  begin a daily lunch service.

After much anticipation, the soft launch for what is being called the RTP Streatery went off without a hitch.

UFT is a food truck organization that includes 12 independently owned trucks, each with unique culinary offerings.

The collaboration between the park and UFT started back in October and quickly gained support from the community. Despite the enthusiasm from the R+T Park, the biggest barriers for the initiative were the incredibly high fees that both the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener had imposed on food trucks, as well as opposition from those who were concerned about possible competition with local restaurants. After a strong lobbying effort from UFT and support from city councillors, both Waterloo and Kitchener dropped their fees to levels that made the RTP Streatery possible.

UFT is the first organization of its kind in the KW area, founded by Reuben Solanga, owner of the LUCHADOR Gourmet Steatery Truck, who found inspiration in Hamilton where there is a thriving food truck community.

UFT has helped turn a competitive industry into a collaborative one, and has worked extremely well for the local food truckers. As Solanga put it, “if we collaborate, we all do better.”

In addition to its food services, UFT requires that its members donate at least 10 per cent of their revenues to charity, although they sometimes contribute as much as 25 per cent. Solanga also wants to help enrich the local community by creating an “epicentre for the cultural arts where people can enjoy food and art and music.”

The UFT fleet has trucks that offer a wide variety of food choices from around the world. Fo’ Cheesy serves up gourmet grilled cheese and mac ’n cheese; South of Seoul specializes in authentic Korean cuisine, including home made kimchi; and Café du Monde offers Parisian style crêpes. Solanga’s truck, LUCHADOR, offers Mexican fusion food, including the tocarian, a Mexican-Korean taco that is based off of a dish that won best food truck menu item in Ontario.

While the David Johnston Research + Technology Park is just a short walk north of campus, there are currently no plans to move any food trucks to the main campus. According to Lee A. Elkas, director of UW Food Services, “Food trucks on the main campus would be a decision for UW Food Services if they feel that they need to add this service.”

The initiative is still in its infancy and Solanga is confident that trucks on campus will be part of UW’s food future.

“Every food service director is going to be looking at food trucking; that’s the responsible review,” Solanga said.

UFT will be servicing the R+T Park every weekday from 11 to 2 p.m. until around mid-October. The RTP Streatery is located at 340 Hagey Blvd.


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