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Chicago’s Next Mobile Food Discussion: Food Carts

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NYC Push Cart

Rahm Emanuel continues to push the idea that food trucks in Chicago are thriving under his leadership, too bad the Mayor’s “Yes Men” have him blinded to the truth.

CHICAGO, IL - Pushcart food vendors operating illegally on the streets of Chicago may finally emerge from the shadows.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he’s looking for a way to sanction and regulate their activities — just as he did two years ago when he convinced the City Council to legalize food trucks with cooking on board provided they remain at least 200 feet away from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“Prior to my tenure, we had years of debate between the restaurant industry and the food truck industry. We worked through and negotiated and now have a thriving food truck industry and also a thriving culinary and restaurant scene in Chicago,” the mayor said at an unrelated news conference on CTA security at the Kimball Brown Line station.

Emanuel said he wants to evaluate the ordinance drafted by pushcart vendors and their legal advocates to minimize the city’s inspection burden — by forbidding them from cooking outside and allowing them to sell, only food made in a city-licensed and inspected kitchen.

But he said, “If you look at the past example of this — food truck vs. restaurant — we weren’t stymied by debate. We worked through the issues so both could thrive together.”

Beth Kregor, who helped draft the ordinance in her role as director of the Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School, was encouraged.

Kregor obviously would have preferred a full-fledged mayoral endorsement. But she’s hopeful the carefully-worded statement is Emanuel-speak for trying to forge a compromise similar to the one that paved the way for a partial ban on plastic bags while exempting restaurants and small independent retailers.

“I take it as a cautious statement. The mayor wants to make sure safety provisions are in place,” she said.

Chicago has emerged as a culinary capital of the world, but remains one of the nation’s only major cities that prohibits street vendors from selling anything more than frozen desserts and uncut fruits and vegetables. Cooked food or cut fruits and vegetables are strictly off-limits.

Even so, scores of vendors defy the law by selling tamales, tacos, hot dogs and other food from push carts across the city while living in fear of arrest.

Find the entire article at suntimes.com <here>

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