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Puebla street vendors scare off restaurant investment

They are also hurting the existing ones, says restaurant industry association

Street vendors in the historic center of Puebla city are scaring off investment in the restaurant industry.

Ten new restaurant projects worth a combined 150 million pesos (US $7.6 million) were slated to start in the heart of Puebla in the final months of 2019 but according to the local president of the national restaurant association Canirac, the investment is now in doubt.

“Investors are worried about the lack of action to remove the street vendors, who have been taking over space since the change of municipal government in the middle of October last year,” said Olga Méndez Juárez.

She claimed that local authorities allow the vendors, known in Mexico as ambulantes, to operate with impunity, adding that the problem is even worse on weekends. Méndez also said that the invasion of street sellers presents a poor image of the city to tourists.

The Canirac president said the heavy presence of the ambulantes is also having a negative impact on existing restaurants in Puebla’s downtown, explaining that patron numbers were down 30% in the first nine months of the year.

Méndez questioned the logic of authorities’ failure to crack down on unregulated commerce in the city’s streets, plazas and parks given that, unlike formal businesses, street vendors don’t pay tax or generate large numbers of jobs.

“If just 10 projects are going to bring 150 million pesos . . . and dozens of jobs, why not . . . do something to remove the informal sector workers?” she asked.

“. . . We’re worried that the city council isn’t looking at this issue with concern,” Méndez said before calling on Morena party Mayor Claudia Rivera Vivanco to do something.

Removing “unfair competition” from the streets of Puebla would send a positive message to both the 150 existing restaurants in the historic center and entrepreneurs planning to open new establishments, she said.

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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