Four years ago food trucks started in the Costa Rican market with the aim of conquering public and private spaces.

On the way, a lack of legal standards to regulate their use in public spaces is preventing entrepreneurs of these mobile establishments from increasing their sales, clinging to private events to survive in Costa Rica.

The first Food Truck park in Costa Rica is located in Curridabat called Calle Vieja Food Trucks. Photo: Facebook

To date, about 36 food trucks have been counted, of which 23 joined the Asociación Costarricense de Food Trucks – Food Trucks Association of Costa Rica  – founded in 2016 to promote activities and give confidence to the organizers of events and customers.

Among this gastronomic model are: Bombona La Vocha Crepera, Go Fish, Apetico, Papata, Ventanita Meraki, La Cebichería, Aguizotes, Armonía and Dr. Grill, among others.

What difficulties do they face?

In Costa Rica there is no national legislation on the use of food trucks in public spaces, so each municipality is responsible for managing the permits as it deems appropriate, usually looking for a similar and related model such as that for restaurants, express services (home delivery) or catering services.

Although I first discovered Food Trucks at the Parque Viva last March, my first taste of Food Truck food was last July 1 at the Canadian Embassy serving up Poutine and Montreal Smoked Meat

“There are no spaces allowed for a food truck to park and sell to customers in an area unless there is an activity in that space,” the association’s vice president, Adrián Araya, told El Financiero.

For Transitarte, which took place from March 16 to 18, the Municipality of San José managed the presence of food trucks under the rules of the use of public space for gastronomy.

This meant that the nine trucks that participated had to fill out a temporary patent form (license) and pay ¢25,000; likewise, the Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) requested of them before the event the food handling card to their employees, the truck’s insurance policy and hoja de funcionamiento (sic).

For their part, the Municipality of Montes de Oca (San Pedro) is in the process of consulting the Municipal Council for clarifying some points related to the regulatory plan and the regulations that would be implemented for the operation of food trucks.

By relying on public events held by municipalities, Food Trucks boost their sales at private activities such as business events, weddings, baby showers, concerts, exhibitions and mass festivals (such as a picnic or the street food festival).

A clearer legislation at the municipalities on the operation of food trucks would allow them, instead of having to park at a single point, can expand its coverage on national roads without investing in a fixed place.