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Business Wed Jul 25 2012

The Future of Food Trucks

lq.jpgCity Council votes on new rules for food truck owners today. If Now that this law has been passed, this is what you have to look forward to:

• Food trucks must not be parked within 200 feet of "brick and mortar" restaurants (which sounds next to impossible in the Loop) or only in areas designated by the city.

• Food truck owners will be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for parking too close to a "brick and mortar" restaurant.

• Food trucks will be required to install a GPS device to enable city monitoring.

• Food trucks cannot operate between 2-5am.

The lone victory of this ordinance is that food trucks will now be able to prepare food on board as opposed to selling premade items, even if the only place they can park nowadays will be a side street near O'Hare.

This ordinance will do more to end this industry than to help it, and most of the opposition to food trucks has been engineered by restaurant owners who are obviously bitter over the high cost of operating an established restaurant and the threat that a food truck parked outside its doors presents.

Public health concerns over food storage, preparation and increased garbage are just ways of distracting the issue: with the right standards for refrigeration and cooking, the odds of foodborne illness are not higher in an item I order from a truck versus ordering in a restaurant, and Chicago has more dumpsters than people. I've never had to look far to throw out a wrapper.

The goal of this legislation is to crush the competition, and if it passes (which is likely), you're going to see an industry die. You're going to see entrepreneurs lose their investments in a business that the City has forced into instability with high-end surveillance and unreasonable rules. It's enough to make me lose my appetite.

 

jen / July 25, 2012 1:58 PM

The 2-5am ban is also really weird - what late-night eats places are even open? Filling that void of a time slot for post-bar food seems like it would be a great idea.

Additionally, isn't the ban on them parking in a vacant lot completely ridiculous as well? (especially if the lot owner has given permission?)

Finally, we all know how accurate GPS will be for these fines, right? Ugh.

You are correct that there is one and only one victory in this ordinance - the hot prep of food. When Cleveland has a better food truck laws than Chicago you know you're in trouble.

donna / July 25, 2012 2:12 PM

Yay Trucks! Everybody LOVES Trucks. The city needs more trucks.
Trucks, trucks, trucks! Trucks are awesome. Every time i'm in the loop, i think to myself, "gee this would be better if there were more trucks everywhere."

flange / July 25, 2012 8:04 PM

Mobility is something of a conceit here. 600 W Chicago, the Northwestern Medical campus, Merch Mart, Aon, one or two Loop stops, UIC... if you don't work in one of these spots, you have no way of knowing the trucks exist apart from articles like these. I haven't even seen enough of them to feel like they're dead to me. The hell with them. (Plus, the few times I've engineered a purchase, I've found they don't really plan for folks who like or have to eat lunch after 1 p.m.)

They must be better in all the other cities writers keep telling us about, right? Is there any pretense that cooking on the truck helps with anything beyond making the wait in line even longer?

R / July 27, 2012 1:34 PM

@Flange
I don't work/live in any of those areas yet I have seen many food trucks and enjoyed their products. I really like it when they show up at events thereby increasing the food options. At our office, we have even messaged a couple of the trucks to let them know that a group of us would like them to stop by and they have accommodated our requests.

In regards to the food prep, it's wonderful to have the option to do food prep on the truck. Why? Because most will continue to sell pre-packaged items as they do now. But if for example you really hate mushrooms or are allergic, you can ask them to make the item without mushrooms and they could accommodate the request without violating the stupid city rule prohibiting food prep.

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Gardening Thu Nov 06 2014

Autism Finds A New Solution in Local Urban Garden

By Brandy Gonsoulin

Developmental disabilities present obvious social and economic challenges, but solutions to problems are sometimes surprisingly found in the most unexpected places -- like on a small urban farm in the middle of Chicago.
Read this feature »

 

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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