Beethovens Pizza owner Najib Abunnabu said he handed out $1000 worth of free pizza Saturday on Main Beach

Free pizza protest against food trucks at Cultus Lake Day

It was a 'thank-you' with pizza from the owner but also a small protest against food trucks for competing with existing businesses

It turns out there is such thing as a free lunch.

Beethovens Pizza owner Najib Abunnadi handed out $1000 worth of free pizza on Saturday on Main Beach, to show his appreciation to loyal customers.

“I wanted to make a statement, and to say thank you to the people of Cultus lake, Chilliwack and the Lower Mainland for supporting us all these years,” he said.

But it was also “a bit of a protest,” he said, against the introduction of food trucks at Cultus Lake on Cultus Lake Day, which competed with existing businesses without having to pay for the privilege.

“My biggest objection to food trucks on the beach is that it will hurt us. We are already really working hard, with the weather and all the elements against us, just to survive.”

Beethovens has been for around 37 years, and he’s owned the popular pizzeria for the past 12 years, and invested about half a million dollars into it.

The busy season is July and August, even though they’re making pizza for six months of the year, April to October.

“Business is very slow in April and May. Our bread and butter is made in July and August, maybe the first week of September.”

Cultus Lake Park Board was initially looking at bringing food vendors in on a regular basis, a complement to the market.

But in the end they voted to limit food trucks to two days only in 2016 — one was Cultus Lake Day on June 11, and the other is the Cultus Lake Christmas event coming up in December.

“The whole idea of food trucks is to give people options, and to add to the experience that is being at Cultus Lake, by engaging all of the five senses,” said Rose Turcasso, commissioner for Cultus Lake Park Board.

It was a big day for Cultus Lake on Saturday. They had about 500 people at the pancake breakfast at the fire hall served up by local firefighters, and hundreds more cycled through the various attractions of the day, including the parade, market, entertainment with fireworks at the end.

Organizers received excellent feedback about the food vendors, she said, despite the surprisingly cold spring weather.

“I think it made people happy and brought them together as a community. It brought people joy,” she said.

Food trucks that rolled in served up everything from dim sum and poutine, mini donuts and fresh lemonade, as well as shawarma and cabbage rolls and more. Lakeside Beach Club served hamburgers and hot dogs from their portable barbecue set-up.

“I think the competition is healthy,” Turcasso said, adding she does not believe the two-month scenario for businesses at Cultus is accurate any more.

“The parking numbers we saw for May and June were very high,” she said. “That is telling us people are coming here more year-round. We’re starting to see an influx even in March.”

Food vendors can offer varied fare to spice things up.

“Ultimately we are trying to find ways to bring more business and traffic to the existing commercial leaseholders, and also generate revenue by offering something new and hopefully exciting,” she said. “People want options and diversity.”

But it’s unfair to the commercial leaseholders who are already struggling, said Abunnadi.

They still have to pay rent, maintenance and security costs all year long, and the increased parking fees up to $10 per day make it even tougher.

“So bringing food trucks to Cultus Lake won’t help us survive.”

What if it’s only limited to a couple of days a year?

“It will still hurt us. Our days are numbered,” said the pizzeria owner. “We don’t have a couple of days to spare.”

He said he didn’t make a big deal out of what he was doing by offering free pizza on Saturday, and kept the politics out of it.

“I never said anything to anyone. Just thanked them. The response was really good.”



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Atchelitz Threshermen’s big garage sale in Chilliwack goes ahead this weekend

The annual fundraiser for the association was delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Sprinkler system extinguishes fire in industrial building in Chilliwack

Progress Way building had only minor fire, smoke and water damage thanks to sprinkler system

UPDATE: Suspect who once killed a man in jail was arrested in Chilliwack after truck fire

Jordan Cole Burt was taken into RCMP custody while wanted on an outstanding warrant

Two Abbotsford elementary schools record COVID-19 exposures, according to Fraser Health

‘Exposures’ defined as 1 positive case at school, ‘clusters’ as 2 or more, ‘outbreaks’ as widespread

UPDATE: Fatal collision Sunday leaves Chilliwack father and five children with minor injuries

Driver who T-boned family after running stop sign on McGuire Road died at the scene

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read