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.