Just what is it that creates so much animosity between street food vendors and bricks and mortar cafes/restaurants?
For many people, running a street food business is an attractive proposition. Start-up costs and pitch fees are relatively low and the high profile of the many weekly markets gives each vendor the opportunity to sell directly to their customers.
But what is it that causes so much tension between the market operators and those operating cafes or restaurants in close proximity? A recent decision by An Bord Pleanala, upholding Dublin City Council’s decision to allow the Mespil Road Lunchtime Market to continue trading highlighted the distain felt by local businesses against these markets. Appeals by some of well know restaurant and deli owners and representatives for retailers said the market at Wilton Terrace and Mespil Road creates a “significant amount of waste and litter”, affects their ability to trade and has an ecological impact on the canal.
Regular visitors to this market would no doubt disagree with these comments and felt it was just a case of “retailers wanting all the business for themselves”.
The same old and tiresome arguments from the retailers are repeated time and time again – “we pay rates”, “we pay taxes”, “we are highly regulated”. Is it not the case that market operators and their vendors are also subject to the same rules and regulations? The answer is a resounding yes. A simple search of rate payers to Dublin City Council will show that the market on Mespil Road is also subject to commercial rates. Each vendor also charges VAT on their sales and pay the same 23% on their rent to operate. It must also me noted that strict regulations and enforcement are equally in place for the trader’s operations.
Maybe it’s the impact on the sales of the NIMBY retailers that has their backs up. Maybe it’s because the customer decides to queue at the many fine food stalls to sample the array of international food stalls as opposed to spending their hard-earned money on an overpriced and tasteless sandwich that is the cause of all this tension. Either way, isn’t time to just back off and compete? Competition is healthy, our traders thrive on competition. It simply pushes them to do better and this is evident to the many visitors that attend the markets.
So that’s that off our chest. Dublin City Council, Waterways Ireland, An Bord Pleanala and many other bodies support our vision and we will continue to improve. All we want is the space to be left alone whilst we build on the hard work and dedication required to keep our loyal customers returning.
In the famous words of Vince Lombardi, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”