Meet the Burnaby food truck festival that doubles as a small business indicator

Grosvenor's latest development site will prioritize building community

Credit: Courtesy of Grosvenor

Grosvenor’s latest development site will prioritize building community

On Saturday, June 20, about 700 people braved a torrential downpour to come to an unremarkable Brentwood parking lot. The former home of a car dealership was being transformed for the first of many biweekly food truck fairs, this one featuring six vendors and a max of 50 visitors at a time, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions.

And if those trucks keep performing well, they could earn permanent residency in the coming six-tower complex on the site.

The Brentwood Great Takeout festival is a brainchild of the site’s new owners, Grosvenor Americas, a subsidiary of U.K. giant Grosvenor Group. But the property developer, manager and investor’s roots in Metro Vancouver run deep. Home to its Canadian headquarters, the region was also the site of Grosvenor’s first foray into North America some 65 years ago.

In more recent years, the company has worked to establish community at developments like the almost finished Grosvenor Ambleside in West Vancouver (a neighbourhood park was built to connect Marine Drive to the waterfront) and The Pacific, its downtown Vancouver tower, which saw yoga classes on the weekend and lawn games in what was previously a fenced-off gravel lot.

But this is the first food truck festival the firm has undertaken, and it comes with some stakes—Grosvenor, which must fill 200,000 square feet of retail in the development, will monitor the vendors to see if neighbourhood residents would welcome one of them permanently.

“It’s meant to be locally based, experiential retail, heavy on the food- and entertainment-type uses, and the idea of the food trucks being a potential sort of incubator we thought was really neat,” says Michael Ward, senior vice-president and general manager of Grosvenor’s 50 or so Vancouver staff.

“It’s almost a side potential benefit for both the retailer and for us,” Ward adds. “And if it does materialize into some of these food truck trailers getting to know the community, finding they can be successful and wanting a permanent home, then for us and them, that’s the added benefit of doing what we would otherwise do, just turn a parking lot to an active space.”

Although the festival is slated to run every second Saturday this year until September 26, the development will take about a decade to complete, so vendors will have plenty of time to win over the neighbourhood.

“If you focus on the social benefit side, the commercial benefit will naturally follow, and you need both sides to be successful,” Ward says. “This is a good example of that marriage of social benefit ultimately leading to sustainable businesses that can thrive in this location for the long term.”