CHICAGO, IL – RedEye examined how Chicago’s food truckers really roll compared to those in other cities. Based on feedback from industry experts, here’s a taste of laws and trends across the nation.

Los Angeles

>The scene: L.A. is considered the mecca of the gourmet food truck movement. High rollers include the pioneering Kogi Korean taco truck, whose fledgling success has now netted the operation five trucks and three brick-and-mortar locations.

>The rules: Unlike in Chicago, fresh food preparation on trucks is allowed, and the trucks are regulated by the L.A. County health department and are assigned letters—just like brick-and-mortar restaurants—of A, B and C, with C being the lowest rating.

>Future: Food trucks in L.A. are reaching a point of maturity, according to Richard Myrick of Mobile Cuisine magazine. Myrick pointed out that operators are organizing politically, with the founding of the Southern Mobile Food Vendors’ Association. On the other hand, some fear the scene may be approaching oversaturation, with blogs popping up to celebrate the shuttering of certain mobile meal wagons. Even Kogi chef Jeff Choi, considered the father of the food truck scene, is urging for more diversity and for trucks to stop congregating in the same lots in L.A., according to the L.A. Times, which quoted him as saying that if truck operators “don’t serve and honor the culture and soul of L.A.’s neighborhoods, what differentiates you from that Marie Callender’s across the street that you are so blatantly fighting against?”

Portland, Ore.

>The scene: Food carts, rather than a small number of food trucks that exist in Portland, are king in that city. The stations—often refurbished trailers or even bicycles lugging small trailers—inspired a study by the city’s Urban Vitality Group and the City of Portland’s planning bureau.

>The rules: Push carts are regulated by the Portland Department of Transportation. The department stipulates rules, including how many carts can be on one block and the distance between the carts.

>Future: Though it has a small number of food trucks, the city has become one to watch for innovation thanks to its food carts.

Washington, D.C.

>The scene: Approximately 100 gourmet food trucks are rolling around the nation’s capital, according to Mobile Cuisine editor Richard Myrick. Like in L.A., the once-underground chefs are starting to organize. This year they launched the D.C. Mobile Vendors Association.

>The rules: Food truck vendors chafe at decades-old rules originally intended for ice cream trucks that prevent a truck from stopping unless it is specifically flagged down by customers.

>Future: Look for more cooperation among the D.C. food truck operators, according to Myrick who said L.A. food truck organizer Matt Geller recently visited the city to share strategies and tips.


>The scene: Miami, with an estimated 80 trucks, is growing at a fast clip but has had to combat several restrictions to its growth, including new rules governing roundups, or larger gatherings of food trucks in one area.

>The rules: Food truck operators in Miami are stymied by a May ordinance that requires approximately 80 percent of residents within 1,000 feet of a roundup to sign off on an event in advance.

>Future: Dade County officials seem to be extending an olive branch to the food truck operators, planning to allow a food truck meetup on Miami Beach as early as this summer.

New York City

>The scene: New York City is no stranger to street vendors as any “street meat” fan knows, so the food truck movement was ushered in more easily than in other cities. The city limits the number of licenses for mobile food vendors to approximately 3,100 and several media outlets report the strain has led to a flourishing black market.

>The rules: A limited number of permits are issued to mobile food vendors, prompting a black market of some vendors who may share or sell permits—or skirt them alltogether.

Find the entire article <here>