It was meant to be a year to remember - for all the right reasons
Rewind to March, and Matthew and Mellissa Walkom had spent the past 12 months building up their fledgling food truck business Southern Smoke and were looking forward to a calendar booked solid with weekend events.
At the same time, the Lake Mac couple were finalising plans to open an accompanying restaurant in the Hunter Valley.
Then COVID-19 hit.
“As we all know, the event industry was basically wiped out,” Matthew says.
“To say we were gutted is an understatement. The only way I could deal with it was to think about how this has affected everyone else.”
“But we had to shake it off and somehow keep the wheels rolling.”
The couple converted their existing café in Toronto into a takeaway food outlet. They worked overtime making home deliveries out of the food truck each night. And they never gave up.
“It was enough to keep the ship from sinking,” Matthew says.
While he admits the recovery process has been “tough to say the least”, the future is looking a little brighter thanks to a Council pilot program paving the way for food truck ‘hamlets’ across the City.
The VibrantSCENE program will open up selected Council-owned sites for food trucks, expanding their options as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
“With normal large events not looking likely any time soon, we see this new initiative as almost like a long-term event in itself,” Matthew says.
“This will keep our business and many more alive, and I think it’s vital for us to work together and see this as an opportunity, not a threat.”