6/26/2012 12:00:00 PM

New Regulations May Allow Food Preparation on Chicago Food Trucks

The Gaztro-Wagon could not stay in business long enough to see food-truck reform
Food trucks in Chicago were given a small nudge in the right direction after nearly two years of battling with city regulations, according to Crain's.

The proposed ordinances from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which were discussed yesterday with 20 food truck operators at a meeting held by the department of Business and Consumer Protection, would allow for food preparation on the trucks.

This is a much-needed change from the current rules that only allow trucks to sell pre-packaged food prepared in a licensed kitchen. If the law is approved during Wednesday’s city council matting, owners will be able to apply for a “mobile food preparer” license at a cost of $1,000. The ordinance would also raise the cost of a “mobile food dispenser" license from $225 per year to $700 for two years.

In addition to the increase in cost, in order to prevent over congestion of the food truck scene, the city will be able to impose a cap or lottery system for licenses.

The new ordinances are a small victory in an ever-raging battle between food truck owner and brick and mortar shopkeepers. The city is acting as a barricade between the two. Other regulations to protect storefront restaurants include designated “food truck stands” in six of the city’s neighborhoods. These stands allow two food trucks to park for two hours in designated loading zones.

Food trucks are also not allowed to park within 200 feet of a restaurant, and must obey all parking rules and cannot park for more than two hours. A fine ranging from $200 to $2000 will enforce these restrictions along with mandatory GPS tracking on all trucks. If the new ordinances are passed tomorrow, they will go into effect in 10 days.

These new regulations could not come soon enough for food truck owners around Chicago hoping to catch up with other cities with flourishing food truck scene sans onboard cooking restrictions. However, they did not come soon enough for several truck owners, including Matt Maroni who was one of the leaders of the food truck reform movement, sending several petitions to the city with no prevail. His was forced to sell his food truck, Gaztro-Wagon, in addition to closing his restaurant Morso.


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