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Food Carts


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>

coors field denver

DENVER, CO – Independent push-cart food vendors who have been operating in Lower Downtown around Coors Field for years have been abruptly ordered by the city to relocate.

The city told several vendors in mailed letters that it was a mistake that they were ever allowed to operate that close to the ballpark.

The vendors say they are being unfairly targeted either for financial-competition reasons or because their removal is considered the “quick fix” to cut traffic and alcohol-related violence in the area.

The bottom line is there will be far fewer vendor food options for fans walking to Coors Field this season.

“I put a lot of time into building this location,” said Adam Kulikowski, who had been operating a food cart near 19th and Wazee streets.

Kulikowski said he and about 10 other vendors who operated in the area surrounding Coors Field were ordered by the city to relocate outside the ballpark vicinity — or their permits would be revoked.

The city and county of Denver told 7News there was a “mistake” made in the original permit process and the vendors should have never been allowed to operate right around the stadium, which opened in 1995.

9News reported that city officials said the carts should never have been allowed within the area bordered by 20th Street, Market Street, Park Avenue West and Wynkoop Street.

Find the entire article at denverpost.com <here>

madison food cartsMADISON, WI – The city of Madison’s Common Council members passed an ordinance to expand late-night food cart vending locations and referred the alcohol license density ordinance to the Plan Commission at their last meeting Tuesday.

Council members unanimously approved a late-night food cart vending ordinance March 18 to expand vending locations. The previous ordinance confined the food carts to a small downtown area against vendors’ preferences as expressed in previous meetings.

The current ordinance to be enacted March 27 reserves 10 late-night vending sites throughout the downtown area. Some of the new locations include the 300 and 500 blocks of North Frances Street, the 400 block of West Gilman and the corner of University Avenue and Lake Street among others.

Late night food vendors are required to submit applications for zone assignments before the April 1 deadline. The city will distribute zones based on seniority.

“I think that it will probably improve the business for the late nights vendors,” Steve Lawrence, owner of Fried and Fabulous, said. “I think that students are going to be thrilled because they’ll see their favorite vendors are going to be staying for longer, whereas previously, a lot of vendors were talking about leaving.”

Find the entire article at madison.com <here>

portland-oregonPORTLAND, OR – Food carts have been part of Portland’s downtown street scene for decades but they weren’t specifically called out as a key to Portland’s retail strategy.

Indeed, the 2009 Downtown Retail strategy identified the parking lot at Southwest Tenth Avenue and Alder Street as a prime redevelopment opportunity. Tell that to the dozens of food carts operating at the lot or their dedicated fans and customers.

Scott Andrews, chairman of the Portland Development Commission and a real estate industry executive, went so far as to call the proliferation of carts and pedestrian activity a form of development.

Find the entire article at katu.com <here>

PORTLAND, OR – Let the naysayers be warned. The mobile food industry is far from a fad and is only going to grow.

roam conference

That was my biggest take away from the first ever ROAM Conference this weekend in Portland, Oregon.

We flew in from Chicago late Friday night not knowing what to expect, but the unknown quickly changed as we took the TriMET train to our hotel. It was late and it had been a long day, but as we were determining where we needed to get off the train, I glanced over to see the gentleman sitting next to me was reading some ROAM literature. I introduced myself and found that  the gentleman just so happened to be Brad Moore. Brad is the owner of Short Leash Hot Dogs from Phoenix. He was here for ROAM and was looking forward to the  speakers and networking opportunity the conference was providing.

The event started early, but you would have never known that the attendees were coming from literally around the world. The buzz being generated was not from individuals suffering from jet lag, but from those who were excited to discuss mobile food and learn from some of the biggest names in the industry.

The crowd was broken up onto two separate conference rooms. One for existing food truck owners and food truck organizers. The other group was for the bushy tailed newbies. The individuals who wanted to know if or how they could enter this fantastic industry of culinary entrepreneurs. I was asked and gladly accepted to moderate the discussion in the boot camp session.

While a large majority of the participants in the boot camp were from Oregon, there were individuals from as far away at Vietnam. The aspiring mobile food vendors ferociously took notes and questioned the speakers who spoke on topics such as:

  • Lizzy Caston: The Business Game Plan – Concept/Brand/Business Plan
  • Rick Humphrey and Scott Ross: The Wheels & The Tools – Truck vs. Cart, Rent vs. Buy
  • Stephanie Ganz and Barb Upchurch: It’s all about the Money – Crowd Funding, Assistance Programs & Loans
  • Matt Hoffman: Getting Legal – Permits, City Codes, Commissary Kitchens & Waste
  • Matt Breslow: Getting Ready – Selecting Vendors, Sourcing, Menu Planning & Production
  • Ginnette Wessel: Marketing 101
  • Brian Reed: Avoiding the most common mistakes

In the other room, existing mobile food vendors touched on topics such as business growth, profitability, trademark laws, sustainability and social media marketing.

At lunch we all gathered together to hear about the state of the industry from the president and CEO of the SOCALMFVA, Matt Geller. We were treated to lunch from Portland vendors Retrolicious and Bro-Dogs.

There was a lot of information and business cards shared during the day, but even as the formal discussions ended, we all loaded on buses (did I mention with local beer) and headed out to the Rose City Cart Pod for diner. This was my first trip to Portland and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from a visit to my first PDX cart pod. As we off loaded from the bus, I was greeted with a very familiar scene.

Just as I have witnessed in cities across the country, this food cart pod was full of smiling vendors taking orders from smiling customers. Those that had already been served or were waiting for their orders were talking with those surrounding them, even if they had just met them while in line. The food and beer were being enjoyed by individuals and groups and the overall sense you would take from being there was one of comfort.

People often ask me to describe the mobile food industry, I think my trip to Portland and the ROAM Conference has cemented my opinion as, “Good people serving great food to enthusiastic customers. ”

If you missed the chance to attend, I hope that there is another conference in the near future for you to check out.

I would like to again thank the promoters of the 2013 ROAM Conference for allowing me to take part in your inaugural event.

Food_Carts_Athens_OHATHENS, OH – According to some accounts, the idea of mobile food started with cattle drives and the creation of the chuckwagon. From those days of beans and cornmeal, we now have street food that’s sometimes gourmet and certainly trendy.

Practically every Ohio University student (and many locals) have chowed down at the Burrito Buggy near the College Gate or one of its curbside restaurant neighbors

These days the tradition is evolving and the locations are proliferating as the restaurant-on- wheels movement makes eating out easier and more appealing.

The mobile food scene is “definitely growing,” confirmed local restaurant expert Leslie Schaller. And there’s “more focus on healthy and local options.”

One example, said Schaller, is Chelsea’s Real Food, which is one of the latest entries in the market. Chelsea Hindenach, 30, opened for business over the summer.

Hindenach invested $50,000 into what she calls a “mobile kitchen.” The kitchen is a trailer that’s pulled from location to location by a pickup truck.

(Mobile kitchen, food truck, food trailer, food cart, food buggy and less charitably, roach coach are names used in the industry to identify movable venues that sell food.)

Hindenach’s cooking background includes five years at the Village Bakery in Athens. “That’s where I learned the intricacies of the local food scene,” she said.

Her resume also includes more than two years as a personal chef. Alas, the family she worked for moved away from Athens, leaving her unemployed. That’s when she took the plunge into the street-food business with the help of family and friends.

Find the entire article by Fred Kight at The Athens News <here>

PORTLAND, OR – Reality shows on television have become a big part of what people are watching on television these days. From the numerous house wife programs to Duck Dynasty to the numerous competitions centered around cooking, travel and survival,  Americans are spending much of their television viewing time looking in on the lives of various aspects of our culture we may not be familiar with.

A Portland based film group is getting ready to begin filming the lives of another culture to share with Americans. Portland food cart owners in a realty show titled Cart and Soul.

Cart and Soul Reality Show

Not the typical reality show based on the drama or oddness of the cast, Cinesational Video Productions, is doing what they feel is a way to change the landscape of TV. Through positive realty show concepts.

The Plot of Cart and Soul:

What if we took 8 Portland area food cart vendors, placed them in a reality series, watched them interact with their families, friends, and customers, and then asked them each week to give something back to the community..

Maybe it’s their time, effort, money, heart, or ideas….

Could hearts be changed?
Could lives be changed?
Could families be changed?
Could communities be changed?
Could YOU be changed?

The Cast:

French Twist Food Cart – Scott Dean
The Hope Kitchen Food Cart & Catering – Marsha Baker, @Michell Baker and @Darrin Ezell
Bro-Dogs Food Cart – @Scott Smith and @Andrew Wade
The Italian Market – @Andrew Vidulich and @Erin Callahan
Mix ‘N’ Match Creamery – Food Cart – @Eric West and @Genevieve West
The Gaufre Gourmet – @Mike Susak and @Charlene Wesler
The Blue Coyote Catering Company – @John Dyrnes

If you would like to keep up on the production of this project check them out at:

TWITTER – www.twitter.com/cartandsoul
FACEBOOK – www.facebook.com/cartandsoul
WEBSITE – www.cartandsoulshow.com

denver food cartDENVER, CO – Push-cart food vendors in Denver are concerned they may soon be pushed out of business because of an old Denver ordinance.

“It’s food, not alcohol so what’s the problem,” asked a vendor who didn’t want to be identified.

The problem surrounds a 1985 ordinance that states push-cart vendors can’t sell food after midnight. Vendors often sell everything from ribs to hot dogs out of the carts outside popular bars and nightclubs in downtown Denver.

A vendor told 7NEWS he makes a large majority of his money around the time clubs are closing.

“I’ve calculated it to be 70 or 80 percent of our money comes between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. — just when the most people are out there on the street,” the vendor said.

Public works employees have been issuing warnings in recent weeks to vendors who sell food after midnight. 7NEWS went to the department for answers.

“I can absolutely understand their concerns,” said Ann Williams, spokeswoman for Denver Public Works.

Williams said the department is aware of vendor concerns and that it’s up to the city council to change the wording of the ordinance. Until the council decides to change or keep the restriction, the department will only issue warnings to vendors.

“As far as the time restrictions go, they should go ahead and continue with what they had been doing, knowing that we aren’t going to cite them for a time restriction violation right now until we get this resolved,” Williams said.

There’s no clear timeline of how long it will take the council to decide on changing or keeping the ordinance.

Find the original article by Don Champion at thedenverchannel.com <here>

Sok Sab BaiPORTLAND, OR – Not every Portland food cart owner aims to open a full restaurant. But for many, a cart’s small scale is great for perfecting recipes, fine-tuning a brand and developing a following before making the brick-and-mortar leap.

This spring, at least five new restaurants will join former carts such as Lardo, the Baowry and Pie Spot in making the transition to fixed addresses, roomier kitchens and rain-proof seating.

Here are their stories, in their own words. (Opening dates are subject to construction whims.)

SOK SAB BAI  – Opening in April at 2625 S.E. 21st Ave., Unit B.;soksabbai.com

EL CUBO DE CUBA  – Opening May at 3106 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Facebook: El Cubo de Cuba

BRUNCH BOX  – Opening in April at 620 S.W. Ninth Ave., 503-287-4377 (that’s 503-BURGERS, if you’re counting at home), brunchboxpdx.com

FIFTY LICKS  – Opening in June at 2021 S.E. Clinton St., 954-294-8868, fifty-licks.com

ADDY’S SANDWICH BAR  – Opening in April at 911 S.W. 10th Ave., 503-267-0994, addyssandwichbar.com

Get the whole story of each of these restaurant openings from the original article by Michael Russell at Oregonlive.com <here>

madison food cartsMADISON, WI – Two downtown alders have proposed a compromise that would allow late-night food carts to continue to do business on Broom Street without damaging the business of nearby restaurants.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, is one of the alders who proposed the compromise. He said that, currently, late-night vending is legal on Broom Street, but two area restaurants, Pita Pita and Silver Mine Subs, have voiced concerns about late-night food carts on the block. The restaurants’ owners have said the food carts are creating unfair competition for the brick-and-mortar restaurants and taking away from their profits, he said.

Verveer said this compromise, which he made with Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, would prohibit late-night vending on a portion of the 400 block of North Broom Street. He said three vending spots would be eliminated and ten vending spots would remain.

Verveer said the main concern is that food carts do not park directly in front of the restaurants. He said food carts must be located in a parking spot, pay a fee to the city and follow other city regulations.

The Vending Oversight Committee and City Council will still have to approve the compromise, Verveer said. He said Steve Lawrence, owner of the food cart Fried and Fabulous, has been acting as a spokesperson for late-night food carts and approved of the compromise. Verveer said he has not yet spoken to the owners of the two restaurants.

Lawrence said the alders’ compromise would allow him to stay in business.

Verveer said Pita Pit brought the complaint to the Vending Oversight Committee last semester when Banzo, a food cart that frequently parks on Library Mall, experimented with late-night vending. Banzo, which has a nearly identical menu to Pita Pit, parked on the 400 block of Broom and directly in front of Pita Pit one night, Verveer said.

“I believe the prudent course of action is for the Vending Oversight Committee and City Council to accept this compromise,” Verveer said.

Find the entire article by Sarah Eucalano at the Badger Herald <here>

Sign the petition to keep the late night food cart spots in Madison <here>

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