Due to the risk to canteen sales, the Belmont City Council will not allow My Coffee Cat to trade at the Wilson Park location on Saturday mornings during the Belmont Netball Association’s winter season.
My Coffee Cat has been trading in Rivervale Park – on the corner of Kooyong Road and Gerring Court – since September 2018 and was then able to change throughout the netball season.
But that changed when the city of Belmont updated its guidelines for mobile food merchants in 2020, specifically to address the potential negative impact that mobile merchants could have on a sports club’s ability to fundraise for events.
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Potential mobile food traders had to obtain written approval from a sports club if their proposed trading times coincided with the club’s activities.
My Coffee Cat could not get written approval from the association this Saturday, so since the update, the bus driver has been unable to trade during the korfball season on Saturday.
“The bus driver has been well aware of these terms and conditions since September 2020 and agreed by signing the permit, and has only recently decided to question the terms,” said Belmont CEO John Christie.
The association’s cafeteria is 150 feet from the mobile coffee canister, and hot drinks are one of their biggest profit-makers at $2 to $3 per cup. Profits from canteen sales help keep membership costs low.
“Their concern (of the association) was the trade on match days (Saturday) and its impact on canteen sales, as the committee observed customers who normally purchase food and drink from the cafeteria rather than from My Coffee Cat,” an according to the city report.
The report said that while the city recognized mobile food traders’ social value to the community, it also realized that sports clubs relied heavily on fundraising through canteen sales for their continued sustainability.
“In the association’s case, the funds generated from the sale of canteens have enabled them to maintain affordable membership fees for local families and to contribute financially to infrastructure improvements in Wilson Park that will benefit the wider community”, the report said.
The current coffee truck trade deal expires on July 31, and the operator has raised the issue again with the municipality on Saturday morning.
Owner Rudy Chilwan has filed a petition with the city council, signed by 59 people, requesting that the coffee be allowed to operate again at its Wilson Park location on Saturday mornings during netball season.
“Belmont Netball sells pod coffee and a range of other food products,” the petition read.
“We only sell freshly roasted coffee beans and packaged pie slices. What we sell does not clash with korfball or local companies.”
The councilors agreed last week that John Christie, the city’s general manager, would advise Mr. Chilwan that My Coffee Cat may trade at another location adjacent to the Rivervale Community Center for the remainder of its current permit.
But a city report said he had repeatedly rejected the city’s offers to trade in other locations, stating that “no other location would be suitable.”
The association indicated that it would be “satisfied” if My Coffee Cat started trading on Saturdays from 1 p.m. Still, the proposed business schedule does not match the petitioner’s request to operate in the morning.
My Coffee Cat has been contacted for comment.