This Wednesday the Chicago City Council is expected to approve a new food truck ordinance in Chicago, which will finally allow the mobile vendors to operate legally within the city. However food trucks will most likely not become more accessible for the people of Chicago, as the new ordinance seems like it will successfully contain the food truck trend.
On the plus side food trucks will soon be able to cook and prepare their food on site rather than packaging everything beforehand. Food trucks should also now be allowed to operate between 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., and the city will call for a minimum of five “truck stands” in six major business districts. However these rulings are the few aspects of the new ordinance that actually support food trucks.
Aside from these allotted spaces, food trucks still will not be able to park within 200 feet of any existing food establishment, including stores like Starbucks or 7-Eleven. Fines for parking in the areas start at around $1,000, meaning potential customers still won’t have access to food trucks in many of the busiest areas. However during lunch hours there will still most likely be food trucks roaming the streets or double-parking to allow a quick escape if they are forced to move. Food trucks cannot successfully operate like this, one of the largest draws of a food truck is it’s mobility, customers can expect a food trucks at accessible locations revealed through Twitter; the trucks in turn serve food until the line dwindles or the food runs out. With food trucks unsure how long they can stay in any spot, there’s no guarantee that a customer will even get their food after placing an order.
Food trucks will also be required to install GPS devices in their trucks to allow the police to track their movements if they park outside of their allotted spaces. A map has already been produced showing the small ‘islands’ where food trucks would be allowed to park, if the spots have not already been taken.
Food trucks will still have a considerable disadvantage to brick-and-mortar restaurants in Chicago, as the new ordinance doesn’t try to help people seeking lunch, but looks out for the interests of brick-and-mortar restaurants which would prefer to avoid the competition. Restaurants complain that food trucks steal their customers by parking nearby, without the high overhead costs and taxes. Given how many food trucks have expanded into brick-and-mortar, and vice versa, the two are becoming increasingly related. However as long as brick-and-mortar restaurants still feel slighted by food trucks, they will use their influence to contain the food truck industry in Chicago.
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