Food Trucks Now Free to Roam (Most of) Cleveland


Progress! Prosperity! Lunch! After a six-month trial period, Cleveland's city council voted unanimously yesterday to permit food trucks to operate in most parts of the city.

Though that's great news, the devil's in the details:

The trucks cannot operate in front of a… vacant lot unless they get the owner's permission.

They must stay 100 feet away from an existing restaurant and 50 feet away from a gas station.

Food trucks also must first receive "a council member's permission to operate in his or her ward."

Speaking of food trucks and overly burdensome regulations, check out this fine video on food trucks in Washington, DC, which features an appearance by yours truly.

My contribution to Reason's coverage of the ongoing debate over food trucks (see here, here, and here) is dwarfed only by everyone else's vast coverage here of same.

If you're a Clevelander who's merely looking for a roving lunch, you can track that down here.

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.

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  1. Dim and Den Sum is pretty good, and so is Jibaro. Fahrenheit’s truck is pretty awesome, but so is their real restauraunt. I haven’t been terribly impressed with any of the other food trucks around here yet.

    1. Fahrenheit’s truck is pretty awesome, but so is their real restauraunt.

      How DARE they operate a food truck in competition with their brick&mortar; business?!

      No, seriously though, how would their dual-mode food service operation work under the “no trucks within 100ft of a restaurant” rule?

      Of course, with the appropriate donations I’m sure an exception could be carved out…

  2. Food trucks also must first receive “a council member’s permission to operate in his or her ward.”

    Ahhhh…the good ol days of La Mano Nera!

    1. You really should trust your elected officials to use their powers only for good. I mean, what could possibly go wrong under such a system? Besides, who is more qualified than the councilcritter from that ward to determien everything from food safety to the number of trucks needed to meet demand?

      1. Gimme my kickbacks or else…

  3. Food trucks also must first receive “a council member’s permission to operate in his or her ward.”

    Let freedom ring.

    1. What, you want our public servants to just allow these trucks to create food deserts? You are a monster.

    2. “Dat’s a nice food truck you got dere….”

  4. Food Trucks Now Free to Roam gambol across (Most of) Cleveland

    1. Gambol Lockdown, motha-fucka, unless you get my permission!

  5. I remember when they used to call these stories “brickbats.”
    Good times.

    1. brickbats didn’t have adequate water and sanitation facilities.

  6. “Food trucks also must first receive “a council member’s permission to operate in his or her ward.””

    We’re just granted use of the land by our masters, our overlords, the true owners of Holy Terra! We dare not commit moral heresy by freely selling shit to people!

  7. Food trucks also must first receive “a council member’s permission to operate in his or her ward.”

    As it should be, what with the nobility having been born to stewardship over God’s own domain, and the commoners with it.

  8. 100 feet away from an existing restaurant? That is dumb. Now, a 100 feet away from Warty for health and sanitation reasons, that I could understand.

  9. 50 feet away from a gas station.

    Another of Cleveland’s fine dining experiences.

  10. Another of Cleveland’s fine dining experiences.

    At least we’re not Detroit!

  11. Beats Winnipeg:
    What type of food is allowed to be sold on my cart?

    The menu is restricted to the handling of FULLY COOKED food and/or prepared ready-to-eat-food. Such food include:
    Hotdogs and smokies
    FULLY COOKED hamburgers
    FULLY COOKED chicken burgers
    All food must be ready to be reheated. No food preparation such as cutting, chopping, mixing, or stuffing of food, etc. is allowed on cart.

    1. Will the government send a SWAT team after you if you defy them and start selling raw meat from a food cart?

      1. like, not even offering it cooked. just “raw meat for sale”, like a mobile butcher.

        I’m sure that’s already super-double-secret-probation-illegal.

    2. My interpretation of this is that you’re not allowed to actually cook the hamburger on the cart – that the hamburger patties must be cooked ahead of time and only reheated on the cart.

      I’m sure that nanny statists frame this as a “food safety” issue, implying that cart owners can’t possibly maintain the sanitation to handle raw meat and avoid cross-contamination.

      The cynic in me says that the B&M restaurant owners use this to knacker the competition – the pre-cooked cart burgers are never going to be as good as the fresh-cooked fare available from restaurants.

      Also, this probably increases the food costs for the carts since the pre-cooked burgers probably have to be disposed of at the end of the day.

      1. There’s other rules for Trucks I realized after posting this. You can prepare food on a food truck.
        What it comes down to is that all food must be tied to a commercial food establishment.
        You have to have a restaurant to take the end of day leftovers to.

        1. More to the point, you have to have a certified commercial kitchen in which to prepare the food. These are expensive (stainless steel counters, etc).

          Carts also have to conform to commercial kitchen specs (SS counters).

  12. Also, the prohibition on operating in front of vacant lots – WTF?

    1. I bet it’s fun tracking down the owner of a vacant lot to obtain their permission.

      1. Notice the ambiguity “in front of”. What is “in front”? The whole damn city is vacant lots.

        1. the orientation of “in front” is determined by the relationship of the lot to the street. Lots entirely bounded by streets (not other lots) have 4 “fronts”.

          (taking bets on ^^ being actual language in food truck (or other zoning) regs for some locality somewhere.)

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