How Food Truck Regulations Strangle Small Businesses and Stifle Competition


Writing at Crain's Chicago Business, Beth Kregor of the Institute for Justice takes aim at Chicago's burdensome laws regulating street food. As she notes:

Far from granting mobile food vendors an unfair advantage, Chicago's street food laws are the worst of any major city: outlawing preparation of food to order, operation before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m., service within 200 feet of a restaurant and parking longer than two hours.

Kregor's column was written response to an earlier piece by Chicago restaurant owner Glenn Keefer, who complained that "renegade" food trucks will cut into his and other restaurant owners' profits, and therefore urged the city to adopt a strict licensing regime that would reduce the number of street food vendors in the name of preventing "unfair competition." Kregor explains why the city should reject this bogus protectionist plan:

Contrary to Mr. Keefer's suggestions, mobile food entrepreneurs contribute to the economy like all small businesses do. They create jobs for themselves and their teams. They feed the local economy by contracting with suppliers. They pay sales taxes. And they test out new ideas that could grow into big businesses someday.

True, they do not pay real estate taxes on storefronts, but they also do not have storefronts. (Maybe it's unfair that downtown storefronts pay so much in taxes, but that is a reason to change tax policy, not to suppress creative new businesses that are not subject to those taxes.)

For more on the government crackdown on food trucks, see here.


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  1. How Food Truck Regulations Strangle Small Businesses and Stifle Competition


    1. Food trucks are very cosmotarianpolitan. They’re like the medical marijuana of street vending

      1. And if you patronize a food truck that only sells cupcakes, you are in the upper 1 percent of hip.

    2. Regulations on businesses operating on public property are perfectly reasonable.

      If they don’t like it, maybe they should find some private property to operate from. Of course, that would require (gasp) paying rent rather than leeching off taxpayers.

      1. And how does this relate to regulations that prohibit preparing food on the truck, limit hours of operation, and require moving every two hours?

        And food trucks may not pay rent, but restaurants don’t require license plates or pay the tax on gasoline.

        1. I’m sure any brick and mortar restaurant would be happy to trade their rent and property taxes for the cost of registering and operating a truck.

    1. I’m slow.

      1. File it under “Semen.”

        1. I posted prematurely.

    2. Well, how can you make sure a business owner won’t murder his customers, if not for permits? You libertards are children.

      1. s/for/with

        Or whatever.

  2. Somehow the title of this article conjured an image of Greg Gutfeld saying : “Does stifling regulation stifle and regulate? Roll tape, tape rollers”.

  3. It can’t be said enough — Minneapolis has tons of food trucks and is doing everything it can to expand their ranks as quickly as possible. It’s just amazing.

    1. Until we see a combination armored delivery and food truck service I will hold out on accepting that “everything it can do” is being done.

    2. Pip! I was trying to find the news article I read last night that reported that the new Fulton taproom in Minneapolis could NOT be serviced by food trucks anymore as they violated zoning rules!

      1. If you’ve visited the Fulton taproom this week for a pint, you probably noticed something different. Since Monday, no food trucks have been stationed outside of the downtown Minneapolis brewery.
        Apparently, a couple mobile food vendors were told by city officials that Fulton actually sits outside of the designated food truck zone. In downtown, the zone ends at 3rd Ave. N., while Fulton’s brewery is at 414 6th Av. N.
        Twitter began buzzing Tuesday night about the loss of food trucks at Fulton. Even Mayor RT Rybak responded with a tweet (presumably after being inundated with anxious Fulton/food truck fans). He basically said he’ll try to help fix the issue. The brewery has been a hot spot for beer fans ever since the taproom opened in March. Fulton also sits two blocks from Target Field, making it a frequent pre- and post- gathering spot for Twins fans.

        1. I talked with a couple of city officials this morning who said beer and foodie fans shouldn’t worry too much. City spokesperson Matthew Lindstrom said City Council Member Don Samuels (whose Ward includes the brewery) and Mayor Rybak “are working to expand the Downtown zone to allow food trucks in the North Loop neighborhood.”
          Fulton co-founder Ryan Petz thinks the situation might have gotten blown out of proportion on Twitter and Facebook. “The city isn’t cracking down or hassling us about it,” he said, adding that it appears the issue is moving quickly toward a resolution.But until they get the go-ahead, Petz said Fulton won’t schedule any food trucks.


          1. Thanks for the info, man.

  4. Government creates more jobs by shutting down ice cream stand because the operator made improvements to the building without asking permission.…..rocky-road

  5. “Reason is just a corporate shill for Big Food Truck”

  6. Chicago restaurant grocery store owner Glenn Keefer, who complained that “renegade” food trucks restaurants will cut into his and other restaurant grocery store owners’ profits, and therefore urged the city to adopt a strict licensing regime that would reduce the number of street food vendors restaurants in the name of preventing “unfair competition.”

    1. Curious, is the restaurant in question operating rent-free from public property?

      If not, your little analogy fails miserably.

  7. If I had a Taco truck, I’d have a taco with both lingua and barbacoa on it, just so I could call it “The No Brainer”.

  8. I actually just came back from Keefer’s and kind of feel guilty about it. But the company picked up the tab, so technically I still didn’t give them any of my money.

  9. My favorite food truck was scheduled for my work neighborhood this lunchtime and had to go elsewhere because a shitload of other (boring) trucks showed up. No cornichons and gazpacho for me!

    1. OMG MARKET FAILURE! This is why bricks-and-mortar restaurants protected by strong common-sense zoning laws are invaluable. With evasive food trucks you never know where ypur favorite food will be.

      *a message from the Zoning Commission–looking out for you*

      1. Yeah!! So there, Big Cheese truck!

  10. What does this have to do with Gay Marriage?


    1. Food trucks are being denied the same legal protections that brick and mortar restaurants receive.

      Therefore the legal definition of brick and mortar restaurant must be made changed to include food trucks.

      Only then will we have true restaurant equality.


  11. It’s astounding that the guy who wants to shut down other businesses at gunpoint is accusing others of “unfair competition.”

    1. Inconceivable!

    2. Inconceivable!

    3. I went for the funny one-word reply, but the squirrels didn’t like it. Instead, here’s a pointless preamble, but please pretend I wrote nothing but the following line.


    4. Actually, nothing in the regulation prevents food trucks from parking on private property with the consent of the owner. It’s parking in the street that’s heavily regulated.

      Which makes sense, since the street is, you know, public property, and a business that sets up shop there is essentially being subsidized by taxpayers.

      I still haven’t heard an explanation of why it’s such a terrible burden to expect the food trucks to find a nearby property owner who’s willing to let them park on his or her property. Kind of an obvious question for us free market capitalists to consider, but the groupthink is strong on this issue as so many others.

      Of course, as a policy matter, I think Pittsburgh takes a good approach and simply requires street-parked food trucks to pay vendor license fees to level the playing field.

      1. Pittsburgh’s idea is fine, as long as it is not used to restrict the number of food trucks that can operate, as Keefer is suggesting.

        1. People can be right for the wrong reasons.

      2. Uh it’s a truck. If the owner parks a truck on the street, and he’s obeying all the laws regarding feeding the meter and not being there when the street sweeper comes, then he has every right to park there.

        1. You left out the part about obeying the laws about operating a restaurant from the street.

          Tell me, if I pitch a tent in a parking spot (with no car there) and feed the meter at regular intervals, can the city kick me out of the spot? Of course they can. Parking spaces are provided as a convenience to people who live nearby or are visiting nearby buildings or parks. They’re not residences and not business locales.

  12. As a Mobile Food Consultant, I am constantly questioned about Brick and Mortar Restaurants believing they have the “Right” to control free enterprise! Mobile Food Restaurants of course should be subjected to reasonable restrictions as any other business!
    Restrictions become unwarranted when they are only enforced due to another business stating “Unfair Competition”.
    Mobile Food Truckers and Friends of the Industry must continue to fight against unfair and biased legislation against the Mobile Food Industry!

    Laura Burrell
    Mobile Food Consultant

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