Curbing food trucks in the Windy City

Cite this Article
Larry Ribstein, Curbing food trucks in the Windy City, Truth on the Market (December 13, 2010),

Today’s WSJ discusses a particularly irritating example of Chicago regulation:  

“We’re stopping the sale of cupcakes,” she recalls [a police officer] saying, before he handed her a ticket and shooed her away.”* * *

After receiving a $275 ticket, Ms. Kurtz, a 41-year-old entrepreneur who quit her corporate marketing job recently to launch Flirty Cupcakes, told her fans to meet her in the alley. “It was like a drug deal,” she says. “I said, ‘Just take them and run.”‘* * *

Unlike other cities, where chefs are free to actually cook inside their trucks, Chicago chefs can’t unwrap or alter the food in any way once it’s on a truck. And food trucks aren’t allowed to park within 200 feet of a restaurant. * * * “It holds me off of doing things like sprouts, herbs and microgreens,” says chef Matt Maroni, noting that such ingredients would “turn to mush” if they lingered inside a pre-packaged sandwich. He’d love to do oyster po-boys, but “fried oysters would not travel well.”

This is supposedly for “health and sanitary reasons.”  Right. I’m not sure why putting wheels on something means it can’t be sanitary.  Or what that has to do with parking near a restaurant.

Trucks can operate for less than $150,000, while restaurants spend more than $1 million bricks and mortar. A restaurant owner complains that food trucks “create[] an unlevel playing field.” 

Sort of like the internet.