CHICAGO, IL – Food truck owner John Nguyen says Chicago’s strict regulations are stirring up trouble for the mobile vendors trying to make a living outside 600 W. Chicago Ave. — a scene that played out Tuesday.
Nguyen, owner of Chicago Lunchbox, said he was one of five food trucks told by police to move from locations in front of and across the street from 600 W. Chicago Ave. during the busy lunch hour Tuesday. Up to two food trucks are allowed to operate in street spaces in front of an office building there, while another three operate daily in a privately owned lot across the street during lunch hours.
Nguyen said police learned he and the other trucks had been at the location since 10:30 a.m. or earlier Tuesday and said they had to leave by 12:30 p.m., as city regulations only allow food trucks to stay in one spot for two hours or less. The regulations apply to trucks parked in public and private parking spots.
But Nguyen said he typically sells for only two hours in the location, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., but uses any extra time at the spot to prepare his food so it’s fresh and then later clean the truck. But the ordinance does not mention whether preparation or cleanup time is allowed and says “stops shall be made only to service customers and shall not exceed … a total of two hours.”
“Blah blah blah just trying to make a living and the city is stickin it to us!!!” Nguyen wrote on an Instagram photo he posted as he stood next to a Chicago police officer.
Nguyen said police let him off with a warning Tuesday, but they said they would ticket him and other food truck vendors if they didn’t leave the lot right away. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nguyen was frustrated the law restricts his operations on private lots — he pays the lot’s owner a fee to sell out of his truck there. He also notes that parking on the street there is tough, because there is an angled curb that makes it hard for two trucks to fit.
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