Tags Posts tagged with "Chicago"


chicago food carts

It’s wonderful to see an ordinance formally introduced. But with election not taking place for 9 months, you can bet pushcart vendors won’t see any progress until the members of city council feel safe to place a vote that won’t hurt their chances for re-election.

CHICAGO, IL – Pushcart food vendors operating illegally on the streets of Chicago took a baby step out of the shadows Wednesday.

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) formally introduced the ordinance drafted by pushcart vendors and their legal advocates, even though it’s an issue that some of his colleagues are not interested in tackling nine months before the aldermanic election.

The ordinance would minimize the city’s inspection burden — by forbidding pushcart food vendors from cooking outside and allowing them to sell only food made in a city-licensed and inspected kitchen.

Chicago remains one of the nation’s only major cities that bans street vendors from selling anything more than frozen desserts and uncut fruits and vegetables. Cooked food or cut fruits and vegetables are off-limits.

Even so, scores of vendors defy the law, selling tamales, tacos, hot dogs and other food from push carts across the city while living in fear of arrest. Maldonado is one of their loyal customers. He buys tamales every Sunday after church.

“I’m not worried about any political repercussions. I’m worried about doing the right thing for this group of entrepreneurs that are sometimes being singled out by police. Chase them out. I don’t think that’s right,” Maldonado said.

“This has been going on for years. It’s not going to go away. Why not legitimize them and have them operate like legitimate businesses in Chicago?”

Maldonado said pushcart food vendors should have been legalized when the City Council authorized food trucks with cooking on board. They were “left out” simply because aldermen lacked the “political will” to confront an issue they have dodged for years, he said.

“The University of Chicago has spent a lot of time with the Department of Health going through safeguards so the proposed ordinance meets all [city] standards,” he said.  “Because of that, hopefully, we’ll find the political will now to incorporate this group of entrepreneurs and finally have them come in out of the shadows and be able to operate freely.”

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, reiterated Wednesday he’s not eager to tackle the “very difficult” pushcart vendor issue because there are “so many different perspectives from aldermen and the communities they represent.”

“It’s less than nine months before the election. People are going to be operating under self-interest. That has to be considered. But, if it could go through and it won’t hurt my constituents, I could support it,” Solis said.

Find the entire article at suntimes.com <here>

NRA 2013
Looking in at the 2013 NRA Show.

It’s May which means the National Restaurant Association Show is in Chicago!  This is the place where you can find anything and everything you need, or didn’t even know you needed, for your restaurant, corner shop, coffee house, or FOOD TRUCK.  We’ll be walking the aisles, attending educational sessions and watching the cooking demos.

Now, if you only have a food truck, you can skip all of the flatware and furniture sections, but there’s still a lot for you to take in.  In the past, we’ve found everything from promotional clothing, i.e. a hot dog costume for your wiener truck, stylish chef clothing to spices, sauces, meats, coffees, oils, appliances, equipment, technology services, alternative fuel offerings and so much more.

If you’ve lost your cooking inspiration, the many aisles will either remind you why you only offer scratch-made food on your truck or spark something new with the taste of an unexpected chutney or hot sauce.  We suggest keeping an open mind and palette when trying everything.  Even though the big players in the food service industry dominate the show floor, there are always those independently owned start-ups that are just trying to get their name and flavor out to the masses.

Along with the tastings, you can see the many chefs grace the World Culinary Stage throughout the show.  The line-up includes chefs from the various networks and television shows, such as, Rick Bayless, Graham Elliot, David Burke, Art Smith, Ming Tsai and Anne Burrell, along with many more demos and book signings.

In addition to everything happening on the show floor, there are dozens of educational sessions throughout the four days of the show.  The topics include operations, sustainability, marketing, technology and menu development including special diets, health and nutrition.  There will be a lot to report out after the show.  There is a food truck focused session and Chris Johnston of the famed Cheesies is on the panel.

There will be plenty of information (and food) to digest, people to meet and things to learn.  Even though the show doesn’t have a designated ‘Food Truck’ section, we’ve seen how other vendors are using food trucks in their displays to promote their products and services.  We’ll keep a close eye on news, tips, trends, products and services that are key in running your food truck operations and report out in the weeks and months to come.

If you are coming in to Chicago for the show…let us know so we can meet!!!

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>

New Chicago Food Truck Parking
View from proposed food truck parking spot off Monroe.

Big talk continues to come out of the Mayor’s office about helping food trucks, yet food truck registrations are down nearly 50% since last year.

CHICAGO, IL – Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a plan to the City Council today to add five more dedicated mobile food truck stands in higher-density neighborhoods that would provide
the space to operate in addition to the legal parking spaces food trucks currently use.

“These dedicated stands for food trucks provide additional parking opportunities and expanded operations to foster this growing industry,” said Mayor Emanuel. “They will also
help to safeguard communities from added congestion and public safety issues.”

Similar to a traditional loading zone, these dedicated locations will help food truck operators to park safely, especially in high-congestion areas where parking is scarce. These
five additional sites would bring the number of dedicated food truck zones to 30.

The proposed additional mobile food truck stands are in the following downtown locations:

  • 200 S. LaSalle St. (Loop)
  • 151 N. Franklin St. (Loop)
  • 185 N. Upper Columbus Dr. (Lake Shore East)
  • 105 E. Monroe St.(Millennium Park)
  • 300 S. Wabash Ave. (DePaul Loop Campus)

Food truck operators are now permitted to prepare “food to order” on board their trucks and have the opportunity to park for free in these proposed “food truck stands” in highly
congested areas, as well as legal metered spaces that are 200 feet from a retail food establishment.

Each food truck will be able to park at one food stand or other legal parking spot for up to two hours.

DonerMen Chicago Food truck
Image from www.williamtest.com

CHICAGO, IL – Attention late-night drinkers: the “DonerMen” are coming.

Indie rockers Shawn Podgurski and Phil Naumann from the band Sybris have embarked on a food truck adventure that aims to bring doner kebabs — Germany’s favorite “drunk food” — to drinkers in need of good grub.

“You know, word on the street is that late-night food isn’t very good business, but we know a lot of bar people,” Podgurski said. “So working with bars is definitely part of the plan.”

The DonerMen get their name from their signature dish, a doner kebab sandwich — piles of spit-roasted chicken topped with red cabbage, lettuce, bok choy and shirazi salad on German bread and served with flash-fried vegetables.

Podgurski and Naumann traveled to Munich and Berlin to eat as many of the German sandwiches — and currywurst sausages — they could in the name of research.

That’s where they found that currywurst can be strangely addictive, and that Mustafas Gemuse Kebab in Munich, a city that’s home to more than 1,300 doner stands, makes the best doner kebab.

The decision to add flash-fried vegetables to the DonerMen’s recipe was inspired by Mustafas.

“I don’t want to make to much of the vegetables because in the end most people just want a bunch of cooked meat on bread,” Naumann said. “But without the vegetables it’s just the same boring chicken shawarma that you’ve had before.”

Sandwiches aside, another thing that stands out is the DonerMen’s bright red truck, which is wrapped in a mural of science fiction comic book warriors descending on the Chicago skyline as a giant Lake Michigan wave threatens to wipe out the city. The truck was hand-painted by artist William Test.

“It’s a neo-futuristic summation of years of comic books and toys and acid, down to the Shogun Warriors and the twisted bent of darkness that is adulthood,” Naumann said. “It’s so beautiful and better than what we thought of doing. We really want part of the truck’s identity to be a connection to the arts. [Test] is on a wavelength we wanted to be on.”

The DonerMen will make their debut at Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Ind., on Saturday and expect to be touring the city by mid-May.

“We’re really close to getting our license in Chicago,” Naumann said. “They’re about out of hoops to make us jump through to start serving on the street. And we’re ready to get out there.”

Find the entire article at dnainfo.com <here>

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>


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>

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

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

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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