Chicago food trucks are finally able to cook onboard their vehicles under an ordinance approved by City Council on Wednesday after weeks of controversy surrounding various provisions in the rules. The debate went right up until the eve of the meeting, resulting in a few key changes: food trucks are barred from operating in vacant lots even with the owner’s permission and are prohibited from operating between 2 and 5 a.m.—so, forget about post-bar-time cupcakes.
After the vote, mayor Rahm Emanuel remarked on the importance of the measure in that it allows Chicago to catch up to the other cities that have embraced food trucks, saying, “We finally move forward as a city.”
Still, many food truck advocates were disappointed with the ordinance, which kept a rule preventing food trucks from parking closer than 200 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants. Restaurant owners argue that they are the ones shouldering the tax burden and deserve protection from businesses parking right in front of their entrance and siphoning off customers. The ordinance also requires the trucks to carry GPS devices so city officials can track where they are. Trucks can be parked in one spot for no more than two hours.
The fact is pretty much everywhere there is legislation regarding where food trucks can be and how long they can be there, it’s likely that it was brought to the municipality’s attention by traditional restaurants. And yet, food truck vendors have found ways to adapt to the often strict regulations by relying on feedback from loyal social media followers (“stop at X location more often!”), adding deliveries or catering and even forgoing trucks for food carts that can park on sidewalks.
Not only that, but many bakers and chefs get their start in the industry with a truck or cart because of the low barrier to entry. This can only be good for the overall market’s future growth, since many aspire to open storefronts one day.
That’s the beauty of small business. It’s adaptable. And where there’s demand (and clearly, food trucks operate in their own little niche), business will find a way.
Read more about the food truck ordinance here:
City Council approves food truck ordinance
Chicago City Council approves food truck ordinance, allowing city to catch up with others
WBEZ’s Louisa Chu live tweets from the hearing