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News Tue Jun 16 2009
I know many people have asked me, and I've wondered myself, why Chicago doesn't have hot dog, pretzel, elotes, knish, etc. carts hanging out on downtown streets like New York and many other cities do. Despite what Hollywood would have you think, there are no folks in business wear standing on street corners to get their dog fix on.
Claire Bushey wrote a great piece for The Reader called Legalize It that explains a bit of the history of the fight to license food cats and what many vendors are getting together to organize.
The restaurant owners in predominantly Latino neighborhoods (where you're most likely to see the carts) are uncomfortable, and reasonably so, with having a cart parked outside their business selling the same food (probably for less) than what can be purchased inside. But there are many areas of the city where the ratio of potential eaters to restaurants is much greater. The city cites concerns for health reasons, which is understandable, but those are things that can obviously be relegated and inspected.
If you want to see more street vendors near where you live or work, contact the Chicago Worker's Collaborative to lend your support. And a call to your alderman certainly couldn't hurt.