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Food truck partnerships good for business

By Penny Coles, Niagara Advance

Silversmith Brewery co-owner Matt Swan,  Chef Adam Hynam-Smith and Tamara Jensen of El Gastronomo Vagabundo and Chris Pontsioen of Silversmith wait for the Friday crowd to visit the microbrewery, which is serving food made and served by the food truck operators. PENNY COLES/Niagara Advance

Silversmith Brewery co-owner Matt Swan, Chef Adam Hynam-Smith and Tamara Jensen of El Gastronomo Vagabundo and Chris Pontsioen of Silversmith wait for the Friday crowd to visit the microbrewery, which is serving food made and served by the food truck operators. PENNY COLES/Niagara Advance

Debate over gourmet food trucks often pits them against bricks and mortar restaurants, but ask the owners of a bricks and mortar brewery and they say there’s room for everyone.

Chef Adam Hynam-Smith of Food Network Canada’s Restaurant Takeover is also the owner of El Gastronomo Vagabundo. He and Tamara Jensen have been seen often around town, serving treats from their popular gourmet food truck.

The couple would love to have a restaurant of their own, but until that happens, they will prepare and serve food anywhere they are invited, including beer-friendly dishes Friday evenings at the Silversmith Brewery in Virgil.

The micro-brewery, which opened about a year ago in a historic church with a modern addition to accommodate the beer tanks, has a small kitchen at the back of the retail area to serve pairings with their beer.

Silversmith co-owners Matt Swan and Chris Pontsioen say they’re not interested in operating a full-scale restaurant, but food and beer go together, and they’re trying to offer that balance.

“I feel very  much at home doing this,” says Hynam-Smith, as he begins the preparation for Friday evening food at the brewery.

“I’m happy cooking in the food truck or here, in a kitchen. I love working with other chefs and with other businesses, whenever and wherever I get the chance.”

He’s pleased with the recent decision of the Town regarding the regulation of food trucks, which placed some limits on them but was seen by most food truck operators and restaurant owners as a fair compromise.

 “Everyone’s starting to get along better and collaborate better. And everyone benefits from it, with more opportunities to offer beer, wine and food,” agrees Swan.

“This works for all of us,” says Jensen.

“You guys take care of the beer and we’ll take care of the food.”

Saturday afternoons, the brewery hosts oyster-shucking champion Mike Langley of the Tide & Vine Oyster Company, presenting tasty oysters to slurp with a fresh pint.

People in Toronto are starting to talk about beer in the Niagara region, says Hynam-Smith.

“They seem it as more reason for them to come to the Region. There’s more here than there ever has been, and that’s good for everybody.”

The food truck operators were pleased, and a little surprised, with the presentations at council recently regarding food truck regulations, and the way they were received.

Restaurant and winery owners, food truck operators and local residents all spoke in favour of the regulations at a recent public meeting at the town hall, agreeing the proposed bylaw strikes a good balance, a compromise that will work for food truck operators, the wineries and breweries that host them, and local restaurant owners.

Under the proposed legislation, agreed upon by council, one food truck would be allowed at a winery for a 24-hour period once a week. That would be in addition to the current rules that permit wineries to hold 24 special events per year. The 24-hour limit was questioned by some, the only opposition to the regulations.

There is no provision for permitting food trucks on public property without the consent of council or in the Queen-Picton commercial zone.

A final report with amendments to the zoning bylaw is expected to come to council for approval in December.

 

 


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