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chicago schnitzel king

CHICAGO, IL - Chicago’s regulations of food trucks have achieved their desired effect: protecting restaurants by crushing food trucks.

The Schnitzel King reports on Facebook:

“Happy Monday schnitzelers! First of all, we want to thank each and every one of you for supporting us through our schnitzel journey. We are sad to say we are closing our doors for now, but that doesn’t mean the Schnitzel King will be off the road forever. With the harsh food truck laws in Chicago, coupled with some kinks at our storefront location, we’ve been forced to close down our schnitzel operations here in Chicago. We are taking our schnitzel to greener pastures so stay tuned for updates in the future!”

Schnitzel King’s owners are remaining party to a lawsuit led by the Institute for Justice, which posts on the matter:

“The city has banned food trucks from doing business within 200 feet of any brick-and-mortar business that serves food. That includes not only restaurants but coffee shops and convenience stores as well.”

Violate that rule, and entrepreneurs can face fines of up to $2,000 — ten times the penalty for parking in front of a fire hydrant. To enforce the 200-foot rule, Chicago is forcing all food truck owners to install a GPS tracking device that reports each truck’s every move. That invasion of privacy shows a shameful lack of respect for Chicagoans’ constitutional rights.

Find the entire article at washingtonexaminer.com <here>

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CHICAGO, IL - Following in the footsteps of their food truck brethren, Chicago’s street cart vendors are pushing for legalization of their trade.

Currently, vendors may sell only raw, uncut produce or prepackaged frozen desserts, with the cost of licenses ranging from $100 to $275. That means tamale stands, “brew hubs” peddling coffee, and even the selling of a cut fruit salad is illegal.

A coalition called Street Vendors for Justice has drafted an ordinance that will bring vendors out of the “shadow economy and into the legitimate economy,” said Beth Kregor, director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, which is championing the cause.

The clinic operates under the the umbrella of the University of Chicago’s law school and has been conducting a series of town hall meetings with the Street Vendors Association (more commonly known as AVA, Asociacion de Vendedores Ambulantes) to educate existing and potential street vendors about the ordinance and stir support for the legislation among the general public.

Working closely with the city’s Public Health Department, the Institute for Justice Clinic has crafted a proposal that takes the city’s priorities into account: safe, clean food that’s easy to inspect. The ordinance would only allow vendors to sell food that’s been prepared and packaged in a licensed kitchen — no cooking would be permitted at the operator’s home or on the cart — and maintained at a proper temperature.

Find the entire article at dnainfo.com <here>

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lower wacker chicago food trucks

CHICAGO, IL - Food truck operators are crying foul over proposed regulations that would significantly restrict where and when their mobile businesses could operate in the city of Chicago.

The new rules, which go before the full City Council on April 15, were reviewed Monday by the council’s Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, which heard numerous comments from restaurant owners who fear that the current legislation is putting them out of business. The committee agreed to forward the proposed ordinance to the council without a specific recommendation.

Efforts to establish more clear-cut parking rules for the food truck industry grew in part out of growing tensions between brick-and-mortar restaurants and mobile-food operations, which for years have been minimally regulated by the city of Chicago.

While the trucks are subject to very specific health standards governed by state and local regulations, the current parking restrictions are still causing some restaurant owners indigestion.

As the city’s gourmet food trucks gave grown in numbers and popularity, operators have inevitably clashed with downtown restaurants.

Of greatest concern to the gourmet food trucks are restrictions that would effectively ban their operations in the Loop.

To eliminate the unfair competition food truck owners hold over long time taxpaying restaurants the city council will vote to eliminate all street parking within the downtown except for Lower Wacker.

Senior city planner D.H. Burnham pointed out that no part of what Chicago is proposing should be construed as a ban because exceptions are allowed for private catering and special events.

Among the key regulations that have been proposed:

  • Food trucks would be outlawed in the downtown business district except for Lower Wacker Drive.
  • No food trucks would be allowed within the four blocks adjacent to the Lake Michigan beaches.
  • A prohibition on food trucks within “parking-impacted neighborhoods” surrounding University of Chicago.
  • For food trucks operating on Lower Wacker, hours of operation would be limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
  • Commercial properties who want to host a food truck would be required to obtain a permit costing between $991 to $1535 for each location, a cost that would likely be picked up by the food truck owner.

Councilman Tom Tunney, who chairs the council committee, echoed the concerns of restaurateurs who feel that food trucks are able to come into the downtown without having to pay the high rents that restaurants must pay.

“A lot of (the restaurants) were here first, and I don’t think it’s right to pull right up to another business,” he said.

Efforts to more strictly regulate food trucks have been closely watched by the Institute of Justice, a libertarian watchdog group, which has sued multiple cities over what it sees as anti-competitive regulations.

“What we’ve seen is this knee-jerk reaction by cities to have food trucks on one side and restaurants on the other, and they want this compromise,” Burt Gall of the IJ said in an interview. “These (restrictions) are really just a veiled attempt to restrict competition instead of what they should be doing, which is protecting public safety.”

City Councilman John Arena expressed concern about different treatment for certain areas of the city, which he fears could open up the city to litigation.

UPDATE: Please read our April Fools’ Day Recap

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Chicago Food Truck Fest

CHICAGO, IL - Depending on how you look at Chicago’s food truck scene it’s either thriving or in a holding pattern. The buzz that began with long-gone trucks like the Gaztro-Wagon and Meatyballs Mobile has given way to a broad, but not especially deep, culture of mobile restaurants.

The Chicago Food Truck Fest aims to definitively make its mark as the food truck festival to attend when it descends on U.S. Cellular Field June 7. Organizers are working on a lineup they claim will be 20 strong and include some of the best and most popular trucks in Chicago.

Right now the event’s website lists just a few participants, including

Tickets are $10 ($25 for VIP) and can be purchased here. $1 from each ticket sold will be donated to Feed the Children.

There will be games and live music, while beer and wine will be available for purchase and a portion of the gate from the event will go to charity. The ticket prices are also affordable. General admission tickets are $10 while VIP tickets are only $25.

Source: Chicagoist

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meatyballs-mobile phillip fossCHICAGO, IL - Once they were the future—food trucks, bringing innovative new tastes to the hungry masses of the Loop and other places where drab fast food dominated. It was Phillip Foss with Meatyballs Mobile and Matt Maroni with Gaztro-Wagon who led the movement to change the city’s laws and attitudes toward food trucks and make them the center of street-level culinary innovation, way back in 2010.

Foss and Maroni were also two of the first food-truck burnouts, both switching back to a brick-and-mortar life after a year or so. In Foss’s case, he went back to fine dining in his own way, turning his food-truck prep kitchen on a dead-end south-side street into a permanent nighttime pop-up restaurant, El Ideas. (He also went through a divorce precipitated, in part, by the impossible lifestyle of fine dining at night and food-truck prepping in the morning and service in between.) Now El Ideas has a Michelin star and Foss is a semifinalist—the first shortlist—for Best Chef, Great Lakes, in this year’s James Beard Foundation awards.

And to celebrate that, last Thursday Foss took the Meatyballs Mobile back on the road for the first time in two and a half years. I went along with him and his girlfriend, Akiko Moorman, as he and his balls (variations on that joke being an integral part of the brand) returned to the world they’d helped create.

Find the entire article at chicagoreader.com <here>

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jerk 312 brick and mortarCHICAGO, IL - TGL Group announced today that it will open its first Jerk. Modern Jamaican Grill restaurant in the River West neighborhood of Chicago. While the opening marks the first retail location, Jerk has been serving Chicagoans with its food truck since March 2013.

The 3,000 square-foot restaurant, located at the intersection of Chicago Ave and Halsted in the River West neighborhood, is scheduled to open in June 2014. Customers can expect a fast & casual experience with a Jamaican inspired menu that will include all of their favorite items from the food truck. The retail location will also carry specialty items that can only be found at its retail location. TGL Group looks to also operate a cafe at the location to serve gourmet coffee and breakfast pastries in the morning.

Jerk plans to continue operating its food truck and Chicago catering services this spring at various locations and events throughout the city.

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Chicago Food Truck PodCHICAGO, IL –  A grass-roots group is working to create a food truck park near the Fullerton “L” stop with hopes of ending what it calls a lack of healthy food options in the area.

The proposal is in the very early stages, but it calls for sectioning off a portion of a private parking lot adjacent to the “L” stop for a few hours a day to make room for a mobile sustainable market.

It would be a hub for food trucks and host other sellers who could set up temporary stands, such as Etsy artists and bike mechanics.

The parking lot, which is owned by DePaul University, could even serve as a space to sell produce from the school’s own urban garden.

“There are food deserts in the city. That’s a common buzzword, but in some respects even in Lincoln Park there’s a deficiency of healthy food,” said Jim Gramata, a Lincoln Park builder who is working with architect William Huchting on the project.

Find the entire article at dnainfo.com <here>

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Mercadito Wheels San DiegoSAN DIEGO, CA - Rolling onto San Diego streets by the end of January is Mercadito Wheels, a new food truck by Mercadito Hospitality, a Chicago-based restaurant group with local connections; Mercadito’s founders are relations of San Diego restaurateur and Mercadito Wheels’ managing partner, Pablo Becker (El Vitral).

The Mexican street food menu will have dishes transplanted from their Chicago restaurant, including shrimp tacos with roasted garlic, avocado and chipotle mojo, carnitas tacos with chile de árbol coleslaw and Baja-style fish tacos. Other handheld dish include their take on a burger, a grind of rib-eye and short rib burger with jalapeno emulsion, Mexican cheese and grilled scallions.

Their cocktail consultants, NYC’s Tippling Bros., have developed an agua frescas menu that includes refreshers like pineapple-ginger and citrus-basil.

The roving truck will set up a regular schedule of stops after they launch; keep tabs on their whereabouts via Facebook and Twitter.

Find the original article by Candice Woo at eater.com <here>

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saks-fifth-avenue logoCHICAGO, IL - Saks Fifth Avenue Chicago will be celebrating around the Mag Mile in anticipation of their new Men’s Store THE FIFTH MAN, location at 700 N. Michigan Ave., opening this winter in January 2014. Warm and festive beverages will be served on wheels from 10am-6pm during the next two Saturdays in December to bustling shoppers looking for a toasty break from their holiday gift lists!

The trucks will be spreading holiday cheer along the Magnificent Mile, including at Saks Fifth Avenue, and neighboring streets. Individuals can “track the truck” on Saks Men’s Instagram and Twitter accounts and by following hashtag #TrackTheTruck.


December 14: Hot Apple Cider

December 21: Eggnog

For more information on Saks Fifth Avenue and THE FIFTH MAN, visit www.saks.com or follow Instagram,Twitter and Facebook.

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chicago-food-truck parking sign largeCHICAGO, IL - After almost two difficult years of operating her food truck, DuckNRoll, Amy Le shut it down and opened Saucy Porka, an Asian-Latin fusion restaurant in the South Loop. She said the city of Chicago’s onerous rules surrounding food trucks were partly to blame.

“Sometimes I wish somebody would have told me the reality, then I would have thought twice about it,” Le said. “I was one of the most popular food trucks. We were not making a profit for the first four to five months, and we were at every event.”

The foodie culture surrounding gourmet food trucks in Chicago and elsewhere has been a draw for trained chefs who aspire to start their own businesses and for customers who can sample up-and-coming cuisine.

“It’s nearby and the food is delicious,” said Khalil Wehbi, while waiting in line at the Fat Shallot food truck at lunchtime in the Loop. “The truffle fries are incredible, so I’m here to get more of those.”  The Fat Shallot’s chef, Sam Barron, has worked as a chef for the past decade, including eateries in Spain and New Orleans, and hopes to open his own restaurant.

But despite its thriving foodie culture, Chicago is behind other cities in the gourmet food truck industry.

Of the 120 gourmet food trucks in Chicago, according to the city, 20 are licensed to cook on-board. By comparison, Cleveland has 49 trucks licensed to cook on-board. Indianapolis, a much smaller city, has a total of 90 licensed food trucks. Los Angeles, with its warm year-round climate, has more than 250 licensed food trucks.

In Chicago, strict conditions for mobile food vendors impede growth, Le said, such as a two-hour service limit in one designated spot, parking at least 200 feet away from any brick-and-mortar restaurants and installing a GPS tracking device.

“Chicago is a tough city to operate a food truck,” Le said. “Even though the city passed the ordinance last July for on-board cooking, it was not an ordinance that would change the landscape of the food truck business.”

For one thing, Chicago food trucks that cook on on-board are prohibited from holding more than 40 pounds of propane in the vehicle.

“For a food truck, 40 pounds is not enough,” Sarah Weitz, co-owner of the Fat Shallot, said. “Unfortunately, when it’s cold outside, propane doesn’t vaporize as quickly and our tanks freeze. Instead of changing my propane tank every two services, I have to change it every service.”

Find the entire article by Michelle Kim at medill.northwestern.edu <here>

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