NZTA offers $10,000 to food cart forced to close in purple patch

In busier times: the Wheely Wild Food Cart in November. (File photo)
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

In busier times: the Wheely Wild Food Cart in November. (File photo)

A food cart forced to close during a post-quake purple patch has been offered a $10,000 lifeline from an unlikely ally.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has offered to pay two-thirds of roading upgrades required for the Wheely Wild Food Cart on State Highway 63 to reopen.

The mobile food provider and its one-woman operator Karen Gonzalez was shut down in the middle of an unexpected customer boom following the redirection of South Island traffic.

A sole complaint about access from the highway saw the Marlborough District Council issue an abatement notice in April.

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The transport agency maintained there was merit in having a place for drivers to take a break along the post-quake traffic route and would help Gonzalez finance the upgrades.

Food truck owner Karen Gonzalez, left, serves Priyanthi Bojaraj in November before she was forced to close her business ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Food truck owner Karen Gonzalez, left, serves Priyanthi Bojaraj in November before she was forced to close her business and apply for resource consent.

NZTA highways manager Frank Porter said the estimated cost to upgrade the lay-by totalled $15,000.

"Given the nature of the business and its value in providing a service to contractors working on the road, and the fact that it provides driver refreshment in a remote part of the highway network which is currently under pressure due to the earthquake event, NZTA has offered to meet two-thirds of that $15,000 cost," he said.

Gonzalez launched her food truck two years ago near the Branch River, about 30 kilometres from St Arnaud.

The redirection of traffic after November's earthquake changed everything, as vehicle numbers quadrupled in a matter of weeks and Gonzalez found herself as the only option for hungry drivers.

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Business had been "100 per cent" more busy, she said in November. But that was before the business was served with an abatement notice in April.

The council issued the notice and also said the Wheely Wild Food Cart needed a resource consent to operate under the Wairau/Awatere Resource Management Plan.

Gonzalez has been approached for comment.

 - The Marlborough Express

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