April 27, 2012

The Chicago Food Truck Saga Gets Legal

Chicago is the only big city that does not permit food truckers to cook on their trucks.

Long story short, in the battle of truck verses brick, a small group of those with a special interest are doing the best they can to fight the natural order of competition, free economy, and consumer demand by wrapping it up in veil of public health and safety. I understand the other side, and the other side has been my livelihood for the better half of my adult life, but at the end of the day it’s classic Chicago politics, and we are simply not comparing apples to oranges. As everyone on the panel agreed, there’s enough room in this city for both to coexist, and we have to wonder how long Chicago can sit on this fence when the rest of the country has jumped on board. I mean, when coverage of the city’s backward policies make the Wall Street Journal, ludicrous is right.


  1. Sheila Ryan on April 27th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve had this fantasy of operating a rogue food truck out of my Honda Element, driving around to construction and repair sites in my rural Jo Daviess County, dishing out tacos and BBQ sandwiches to hard-working folks on tight work schedules. I have two 12V power outlets in the Element.

    But last year a friend got hit with a fine for selling a handful of home-baked goods at a local farmers’ market hosting, on average, four vendors, so maybe this is not such a hot idea.

  2. Casey Cichowicz on April 27th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Wow, that’s kind of terrible. I like the way she brought in the free economy and competition argument.

    Something only tangentially related just occurred to me, though. I kind of avoid food trucks, and I think it’s for the same reason I don’t take the bus. I know it’s wrong, but I haven’t yet quite figured out where they’ll be and where they’ll go, so I tend to think of them as unreliable. I mean, sometimes they’re there, and some times they’re not! That’s no way to get a taco, is it?

    Maybe I’m not as much of a thrill seeker as I thought.

  3. Sheila Ryan on April 27th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Casey, your dis-ease over buses reminds me of a Texas friend who’d grown up on a ranch and only encountered mass transit once he was a great big grown-up man. They made him nervous, too. “How do you know when to get off?” He once asked me.

  4. Sheila Ryan on April 27th, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Oh, and this is the sort of person I am: Every category of food travelers from the US are enjoined against buying from street vendors in Mexico, I have bought from street vendors in Mexico and have eaten.

    A madcap who gambles with Fate, that’s me.

  5. Casey Cichowicz on April 27th, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I like buying from street vendors. Milk product from a gourd? Yes please!

  6. Casey Cichowicz on April 27th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I realize the bus thing is dumb. But I was on a bus once, and pulled the string too early, and rather than saying “oh, I thought mine was the next stop” I just got off and walked the rest of the way. I’ll never make that mistake again, I thought.

  7. Sheila Ryan on April 27th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    When flockers assemble in western Maryland this summer, I will issue myself a challenge. I will leave food unrefrigerated for — okay, name the number of hours — days! — and eat it.

    That is the kind of insanely lost weekend it will be.

    Alcohol poisoning is for amateurs. I’m up for risking food poisoning.