Kiama residents unhappy and making a food truck ruckus | Illawarra Mercury

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Kiama food fans are up in arms over claims a local business was coerced into not hosting an out of town food truck in their car park over the weekend. On Sunday evening, the popular Samaras food truck was to visit Kiama, arranging with a local business to host the drive-through in their car park. The food truck has visited several locations in the Illawarra in recent weeks and during the bushfires firefighters were served free meals. However several days before the Kiama event, Samaras’ Omar Nemer posted on Facebook that the event had been cancelled, because some locals had “threatened” the store manager that they’d take their business elsewhere if the truck came down on Sunday. In a separate post on a Kiama community Facebook page, Mr Nemer alleged the manager had been “blackmailed” by a member of the Kiama and District Business Chamber. “The fact that an individual from Kiama who, from my knowledge is a part of your chamber, blackmailed [the manager] by threatening to take his fleet of vehicles and get his tyre and mechanical servicing done somewhere else if our food truck was to come down last Sunday is not on,” Mr Nemer wrote on the Facebook post. READ MORE: Segression records sequel to fan favourite while in lockdown “This forced him to cancel our legal, tax-paying, job keeping, satisfying the locals pop-up.” Mr Nemer said the locals were unhappy that the food truck was cancelled, stating “they felt like they have had something taken away from them”. Still, he hadn’t ruled out visiting Kiama, asking anyone owning private land with a decent car park to get in touch. Chamber of Commerce president Cameron McDonald was aware of the issue and confirmed the individual involved was actually a member of the chamber’s executive. “However, they weren’t acting [as a member of the executive] and it’s not a policy of the chamber with regard to approaching another local business,” Mr McDonald said. “So they’ve done this off their own bat, as a member and as another local business.” Mr McDonald said he understood no threats to take away business were made. “They’ve got their own version of events that doesn’t correlate to the version of events the food truck operator has got,” Mr McDonald said. The president said the gist of the phone conversation was that the member wondered if it was a good idea to be hosting a food truck from out of town when some businesses in Kiama were struggling. Kiama residents were unhappy the Samaras food truck didn’t come to town, many taking to Facebook to voice their disapproval. “This was terrible,” wrote Cara French. “It’s not influencing Kiama business. I would have gone to the drive through but instead I cooked at home so either way was not going to any local business anyway. People of Kiama are missing out.” Heidi Smith was “disappointed”. “I was looking forward to it. I support local businesses too. Honestly very sad,” she wrote. Mell Theobold was another who found it sad. “Samaras are all about community and giving back to them. Especially when there were bushfires. Their food is amazing and that’s why they are so successful.” Sue White questioned the assumption that people who were planning to go to the Samaras pop-up weren’t also buying from Kiama cafes. Matt Cefai agreed, feeling people in Kiama could support both local businesses and those from out of town. “I support local businesses,” he wrote. “I support new businesses and those that come to town now and again. “It’s a free country, we don’t have a Lebanese or Middle Eastern option here so the novelty of it popping into town …is great.”

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