The Quebec Street Food Association recently launched Pedro, its mobile app to help customers locate food trucks and to promote street food in the province. The QSFA will have its work cut out for it marketing the app to both customers and trucks.
“One of our goals is to make sure the street food scene is well run in the province,” Quebec Street Food Association President Guy Vincent Melo told MTLinTech. Another goal is to have 100,000 users by the beginning of next year’s street food season.
Above all, people won’t have to wonder whether a truck will show up when and where it says it will. With the Pedro App, they’ll have that info at their fingertips.
“We wanted to give the responsibility to the street truck owners to tell customers where they are. And we wanted customers to follow the trucks and have an interest in the food truck movement to help it grow,” said Melo.
The free app shows a map of where users can find trucks on any given day and lists menus and hours of operation. It also allows users to save a list of their favourite trucks and will eventually send push notifications when favourites are nearby.
The name comes from former Montreal Expo’s pitcher Pedro Martinez and is also a tribute to “the Hispanic workers that contribute to Quebec’s & the World’s culinary industry, from the fields to the best kitchens,” the association explained.
“We wanted to give the app a name so it could interact with the fan base,” said Melo.
Local company WE ARE Interactive is behind the app.
“We went with them because they told us that they could create this interactivity with the fan base that we needed,” says Melo. It cost $15,000 to start and the costs will go up as features are added, like the ability to pay with your phones and access Easter Eggs. You could take a selfie with the Pedro app and you will have a mustache just like Pedro.”
The app includes member and non-member food trucks of the association alike. Thirty-two food trucks are already signed up and eight are acting as Pedro app ambassadors. Participating trucks pay to be part of the app, but the app itself doesn’t make money, says Melo. “We want members and non-members to make money instead.”
The app doesn’t offer discounts but if individual trucks want to offer freebies it will be up to them.
Trucks are also responsible for uploading and updating menus, which they do by taking a photo on their phone and uploading.
Some food trucks, however, are choosing not to be part of the app, including Winneburger and TukTuk.
Noémie Dumais of TukTuk says that she hasn’t yet been approached to be on the app, but the fee is a deterrent and she feels her Thai food truck is already easy to find anyway.
“We go out only at lunchtime in Montreal and for private or corporate events, so our customers are people working around where we park,” says Dumais. “Maybe it could have been useful the first two years when we were going to festivals and having nighttime opening hours.”
If the app becomes widely used, though, Dumais might reconsider.
“I’m always ready to be surprised if something should be impressively successful at helping the food truck industry.” For now, customers craving spicy mango salads, pad thai or crispy chicken breast with sweet chili sauce can follow TukTuk’s website calendar.
Opening the app to non-members of the Quebec Food Truck Association also makes it easier for Pedro to expand into other cities in Quebec and the world, which, as Melo hopes, could help it become the go-to app for food trucks internationally. “Trucks from New York and Los Angeles could download the app and use it,” he says.
While there are still a few bugs to work out, the association decided to launch immediately and start troubleshooting rather than wait until next year.
“We were supposed to launch at the beginning of June. Then it was July and then mid-July,” says Melo. “We’ve been kind of hurt because we decided to do it in mid-season. But we figured that if we want to manage food trucks in the city next year, we want to make sure the app is good.”
Pedro fans will surely raise a glass of the Au Pied de Cochon truck’s apple cider to that.