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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where are the Food Truck Stands?

I still feel betrayed by the city I love.

I always thought hard work, perseverance, and dedication were the key to being successful at starting a small business. Taking this work ethic with us, my business partner & I started the Chicago Schnitzel King. Over the past year, our experience has proven that starting a small business in Chicago requires the work ethic previously listed.  Unfortunately, that work ethic can only carry food truck owners so far before the black cloud of Chicago’s political clout stops us in our tracks.

The new ordinance passed at the end of July allows for food trucks to cook on board, but why are food trucks still operating as they did before the ordinance passed? For starters, the new ordinance now requires mobile food trucks to be inspected by the fire department, which has a completely different set of regulations than the city. Yes, there is unarguably more time needed in order to build or buy a newly outfitted mobile food truck, but this alone shouldn’t prohibit new business from starting up around the city. Other aspects, such as the mandatory GPS requirement which went into effect yesterday, the 200 ft rule between food trucks and brick & mortar establishments, the absence of food truck stands, and the fines of up to $2,000 for breaking any of these rules, are the reason.

At the last city council meeting on July 25th, Alderman Reilly promised food truck owners that he would work with us to establish and set up food truck stands in high foot traffic areas in the loop, yet we have not heard high nor hare from him after the new ordinance passed. Moreover, on July 30th Alderman Reilly posted on his website that food trucks are now allowed to park at designated Food Truck Stands across the city. 

As a food truck owner, I am concerned that there are no food truck stands established yet, especially since they are promised to us in the new ordinance. The food truck stands were to be set up all around the city in places that prohibit food trucks to park due to their proximity to establishments that sell food (7-11 & Quick Marts included), which allows food trucks to have a presence in the downtown loop. So I ask the alderman of my city & hometown: Why the delay in giving food trucks what you promised, especially now that the GPS requirement is in effect? 

Yesterday, October 1st, is when food truck owners were expected to have a GPS unit installed on their vehicles. This data needs to be made available for the city to track. The fine for violating this new mandatory rule is up to $2,000, an amount that would put many food truck owners out of business. Now it feels like I need to wear an ankle bracelet just to conduct my small business operation.