Chicago Legalized Food Trucks in July, But Won't Let Any Trucks Serve Food

In July, Chicago legalized food trucks. But not a single food truck was in operation as of the end of the year, thanks to a mind-numbingly complicated series of bureaucratic hurdles.

According to the Chicago Tribune, 109 would-be purveyors of mobile cuisine have applied for licenses, but the city hasn't seen fit to OK any of them. Among the requirements they may be having difficulty meeting: 

  • Ventilation requirements are similar to those in bricks and mortar kitchens. Complying will force the trucks to top 13 feet high, which makes them too tall to fit under some of the Windy City's underpasses.
  • The trucks must also contract with a local commissary for wastewater and grease disposal. But those facilities are few and far between—some of the license seekers aren't sure how to find them or even if they exist.
  • And Reason has previously covered requirements that trucks be outfitted with GPS units and that they must operate more than 200 feet from any existing food establishment. (These provisions are being challenged in court.)

Chicago's rules are out of the ordinary, and the city isn't doing much to help entrepreneurs meet them:

Chicago's code is "one of the most, if not the most, stringent in the country." [says Gabriel Wiesen, a food truck operator who also runs Midwest Food Trucks].

While most of its provisions are similar to those in other major cities, Wiesen said, Chicago's code includes rules on ventilation and gas line equipment that "are meetable but extremely cumbersome and can raise the price of outfitting a truck by $10,000 to $20,000."

The City of the Big Shoulders is hungry. And 109 entreprising folks want to help feed it. Too bad they're not allowed to.

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  • sarcasmic||

    This is how government grows the economy.

  • nicole||

    Hmm, not sure about the "not a single food truck was in operation as of the end of the year" claim. Ah, now I understand--from the article: "Wiesen, who makes freshly fried gourmet doughnuts on his Beavers Coffee + Donuts truck, must operate on private property until he gets his onboard cooking license."

    My bf, who works on/near the UofC campus, goes to food trucks all the time, and I had wondered why they were there and I had literally never seen them anywhere else. I'll have to find out where exactly they park, though, as the University is inclined to act like everything in its neighborhood is private property (and the city seems willing to go along with the charade).

  • Another David||

    It's all just a big misunderstanding. They legalized trucks made of food. Not their fault the DMV hasn't kept up.

  • SugarFree||

    Chicago owns its streets and can do what it wants with them.

  • Doctor Whom||

    The City of the Big Shoulders is hungry. And 109 entreprising folks want to help feed it. Too bad they're not allowed to.

    If people want food trucks, they will vote out out politicians who oppose them. That's the way it works. A majoritarian statist told me so.

  • Hyperion||

    Are they free food trucks?

  • SIV||

    Things cosmotarians like.

  • sloopyinca||

    The problem with food trucks in Chicago is that they may be able to spread the scourge that is deep-dish. Now I'm all for liberty, but at some point we really do need to consider the children. I'm willing to take that stand here.

  • SugarFree||

    No, you see, food trucks keep people from having to eat deep dish. They are force for good.

  • sloopyinca||

    Are you that naive that you don't realize Big Deep Dish is behind the food trucks?

  • nicole||

    No, seriously, the food trucks will free us from deep dish.

    I am so hungry right now.

  • SugarFree||

    Silly conspiracy mongering. Next thing you'll be telling us is that humans have walked on the moon. Sheer lunacy.

  • sloopyinca||

    What you did there? It did not escape my vision.

  • Randian||

    I officially rise in defense of deep-dish.

    Flame away, pizza snobs, but there is nothing bad about a pizza that's even more laden with meat and cheese than standard 'za.

  • nicole||

    Aside from my pizza snobbery, deep dish just has way too much sauce for me.

  • sloopyinca||

    but there is nothing bad about a pizza that's even more laden with meat and cheese than standard 'za.

    And what exactly does this have to do with deep dish?

  • Randian||

    What? Traditional Chicago-Pizza has thin to standard crust. The deep-dish of the pan provides a greater vehicle for meat, cheese and other toppings.

  • nicole||

    It also has an extra layer of crust though.

  • Disgusted Dem||

    People often hate the crust on pizza because many pizza makers (or pizza dough providers) are unwilling to take the time to let the dough ferment properly and let flavor develop.

  • ||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-style_pizza

    As described here, Chicago-style sucks ass and should be smited in accordance with tradition. The thin-crust Chicago pizza, while still inferior to New York style pizza can be allowed to live on Rainbow Puppy Island. Where the hell is reinmoose?

  • sloopyinca||

    You're confusing pan pizza with deep-dish (otherwise known as abortion in a bucket, Satan's pizza or shit from an oven). There's a huge difference.

  • Randian||

    no, I don't think I am. We have an Uno down the street we frequent and the crust isn't thick. The pan pizza is thick-crusted. Deep dish is not.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The trucks must also contract with a local commissary for wastewater and grease disposal. But those facilities are few and far between—some of the license seekers aren't sure how to find them or even if they exist.

    If that's the sticking point, what exactly were the non-compliant trucks planning to do with their waste water and grease? Just dump it in someone's storm drain? Overregulation is a problem, but that doesn't mean it's okay for the truck operators to damage other people's property because they don't feel like paying for waste disposal.

  • Steve G||

    Alt-Text WIN!

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