Don’t Cook and Drive

Don’t cook and drive – that’s the current rule in Chicago. Have you seen the ubiquitous trucks that park on street corners and offer everything from hot tamales to hot dogs? These are common in cities like New York and Los Angeles, but they are all but illegal in Chicago, where the restrictions mean that it’s impossible to get a hot meal from a food truck and even cold foods are a difficult thing to find.

Chicago Food Trucks under Strict Guidelines

First of all, it turns out that the requirements say that Chicago chefs who own food trucks may sell food out of their trucks – as long as the food was prepared elsewhere and is sold pre-packaged inside the truck. This means that not only are the hot tamales and hot dogs out, but so are many other kinds of foods.

If you’ve ever bitten into a tuna sandwich from one of those old style food vending machines…you know what we’re talking about. No one liked ‘em then and they pretty much disappeared in part because the bread would become mushy with a number of different kinds of “wet” foods in between the slices after a while.

As if that restriction weren’t bizarre enough however, the other thing that seems to be hindering the adoption of food trucks in the Windy City is the requirement that they must be parked more than 200 feet from the closest brick-n-mortar restaurant. This effectively makes the most lucrative parts of the town’s business centers off limits to mobile restaurateurs.

Start Up Costs of Food Trucks

The big issue it seems is that the food trucks are infinitely cheaper to set up than the traditional brick-n-mortar restaurant. While it’s estimated that a traditional restaurant would cost some $1 million to put together, a food truck business can get going for as little as $150,000. That difference often means the difference between starting a business and not starting a business, especially in this economy.

A new city ordinance is currently under consideration to try to get the law changed to make the city more friendly to food trucks, but unless and until it does get passed, chefs be warned – don’t cook and drive in the Windy City.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: