Chicago Food Trucks Banned from Cooking Onboard

Nearly six months ago Chicago approved new legislation meant to help food trucks legally operate in the city and finally have the opportunity to cook food on board. However in those six months not one single truck has successfully been licensed for onboard cooking. 109 food trucks have applied for Chicago’s Mobile Food Preparer licenses, but according to the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer protection, none of them have met the city’s requirements.

For many food trucks cooking their food onboard is the only way to serve a superior, made-to-order product. The Jibarito Stop food truck invented a new sandwich called the jibarito, with seared steak, lettuce, tomato and cheese between hot friend plantains. However the truck’s owners Cely Rodriguez and Moraima Fuentes may never be able to actually serve this sandwich.

“I think many food truck owners are hesitant to even pursue cooking onboard because of their haunting experience with working with the city,” said Rodriguez.

Food truck owners certainly feel the same way about applying for this license, encountering city officials that cite numerous problems but offer no real solutions. Gabriel Wiesen, food truck operator and owner of Midwest Food Trucks said that Chicago’s regulation is “one of the most, if not the most, stringent in the country.”

Food truck owners had a difficult enough time getting a license to serve prepackaged food, that cooking onboard seems nearly impossible. Chicago’s code requires that food trucks have ventilation equipment and gas line equipment that are very difficult to install and raise the cost of outfitting a truck as much as $20,000. This equipment can also raise the height of food trucks to 13 feet, making it impossible to travel beneath certain underpasses in Chicago.

However the Office of Business Affairs is telling a different story. Spokeswoman Jennifer Lipford said that only four of the 109 food trucks that applied for the license have returned for follow-up consultations.

“The city wants to see a thriving food truck industry that also maintains important health and safety standards that are in place to protect the public,” said Lipford. “We want to see more food trucks and we want to work with people, but we can’t work with them if they don’t come back.”

Many food truck owners still believe that the city is sending mixed messages towards food trucks. Aaron Crumbaugh of Wagyu Wagon has been discouraged by the process of obtaining licenses in Chicago, and has turned his attentions to outfitting food trucks in other cities with straightforward licensing procedures. Another truck, Beavers Coffee + Donuts Truck has been forced to operate solely on private property without an onboard cooking license. The truck still must work with a local commissary to assist with a number services including wastewater and grease disposal. Food trucks so far have not found any such commissaries.

The Chicago Tribune recently confirmed one known commissary as well as a shared kitchen facility which allegedly qualifies as one, though the owner was unaware because of a miscommunication.
It seems that miscommunication and confusion have been paramount in preventing food trucks from fully operating within Chicago, and many truck operators are calling for a city liaison to assist them in the licensing process. This licensing debacle has already caused several trucks to shut down permanently, and raises questions as to whether Chicago truly intends to allow food trucks after years of back and forth debate on the topic.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here:


LA City Council Endorses Meatless Mondays

The Meatless Monday campaign has gained and lost popularity over the last few decades, originating as a way to support the troops during World War II, and reemerging in 2003 in a promotion by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Now the City Council of Los Angeles is working to integrate this meatless trend into the homes of more people.

The Los Angeles City Council has already come a long way in banning trans-fats and opposing fast-food restaurants. Now they are aiming to make city residents feel guilty about what they eat with a Meatless Monday resolution On Friday the resolution passed in a 14-0 vote officially urging residents to adopt a personal pledge to avoid meat on Monday’s. This resolution is a far cry away from New York City’s mandatory soda ban, and the police will not be legally enforcing this resolution, checking packed lunches and banning the purchase of meat. Ultimately the resolution should start a trend in the city to make residents healthier and reduce environmental waste.

Councilwoman Jan Perry was instrumental in passing this resolution, and also called a ban on new fast-food restaurant in South Los Angeles as a method to curb obesity. Perry said “we can reduce saturated fats and reduce the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. While this is a symbolic gesture, it is asking people to think about the food choices they make. Eating less meat can reverse some of our nation’s most common illnesses.”

Other councilmen have joined with Perry in supporting Meatless Mondays, including a councilman whose son was recently diagnosed with diabetes. The Food Policy Council initially developed this proposal, part of a larger agenda to encourage healthy foods in Los Angeles.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here:


Some Cities Allow Food Trucks, Others Just Ban Them

The small town of Zillah, Washington has recently banned food trucks from operating in a unanimous City Council decision. The small city has a population of 2,770, but feels that food trucks pr ‘taco wagons’ have an unfair advantage over businesses that pay property taxes. Zillah officials are also concerned about traffic problems that may arise from mobile vendors, and potential health issues.

Mayor Gary Clark anticipated the rise of food trucks in this town, and placed a temporary moratorium on them last summer. According to Clark, “My request came from looking around at other communities and seeing them pop up. I thought maybe it’s something we need to get ahead of. Personally, I don’t really care for the mobile vendors. They come in, set up shop and don’t pay taxes. They’re here today and gone tomorrow.”

Councilman Kevin Russell affirmed this statement, “The main thing is we want to protect public safety, make sure all businesses are on the same playing field.” Zillah has recently experienced a growth in its Latino population, but council members say demographics have nothing to do with this ordinance. The ordinance was not meant to affect small ice cream vendors or home delivery options, but was aimed at the full-blown ‘taco wagons’.

Zillah’s decision in unfortunate, given the way many larger cities have worked to incorporate food trucks into their operations. In today’s economy food trucks are a low entry-cost solution for entrepreneurs who are unable to open restaurants and are able to provide jobs and affordable food to the public. Food truck models have been implemented in most major cities, as Long Angeles has addressed health concerns by applying the same grading system restaurants have to mobile vendors as well. For those concerned about food trucks evading taxes, the City Council could try to enact a permitting or parking system more in line with what the city expects. Simply shutting down the food truck industry in the whole town may seem like an easy solution, but city officials are shutting down a major industry based upon what seems like personal prejudice and an unwillingness to enact compromise.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: