What is wrong with Chicago?

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BT
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2010/12/13 18:14:37 (permalink)

What is wrong with Chicago?

From today's Wall Street Journal ( http://online.wsj.com/art...9742.html?mod=ITP_AHED )
 
Tiffany Kurtz was cruising the downtown streets here in her powder-blue van when a group of women flagged her down.
She punched her hazard lights on, pulled into a loading zone and began selling her wares. Within minutes, a police officer rolled up with his lights flashing.
"We're stopping the sale of cupcakes," she recalls him saying, before he handed her a ticket and shooed her away.
Food trucks—essentially restaurants on wheels—have taken off in cities such as Los Angeles and New York, spurred by the weak economy, trendy fare and the proliferation of social media, like Twitter. Food & Wine magazine voted an L.A. food-truck chef one of its "Best New Chefs" of 2010 and the Food Network has a show devoted to such vendors. But in Chicago, one of the nation's most progressive culinary cities, the trucks are held back by restrictive rules and operate in a legal twilight zone . . . .

 
The article goes on to say the Chicago doesn't allow any food to be prepared in trucks and it can't even be unwrapped.  Only prepackaged food prepared elsewhere may be sold.  And food trucks can't park "within 200 ft. of a restaurant" (try that in any downtown!).
 
Chicago claims these are health rules but everybody knows they are an attempt by restaurant owners to prevent competition.  Given the built in advantage of restaurants (it's certainly better to be able to sit down and eat your food rather than having to gulp it on a cold, windy sidewalk), you'd think they'd be able to compete without cheating (so to speak).  
#1

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    plb
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2010/12/13 18:33:33 (permalink)
    I'm not saying I agree with Chicago (that toddling town), but:
    They are harder to police from a health safety prospective
    They are harder to police from license and tax prospectives
    They make the already bad Chicago traffic worse
    #2
    senor boogie woogie
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2010/12/19 04:21:03 (permalink)
    There is a story recently from the Memphis (Tn.) newspaper (Commercial Appeal) about the proliferation of hot dog vendors and food trucks being seen in the downtown area or elsewhere. For a lot of these vendors, this is a part time gig (usually lunchtime during the work week) which suppliments other income.
     
    The problem is the government. Governments stiffle innovation and disallows people from making their own choices and rules. The government as someone said before, wants their business license (legalized extortion) fees. The city can do spot health checks of these businesses, even if it to kick up a hot dog or two for free to the inspector (if he doesn't get sick, then he knows everything is OK). I think if nothing else that food made by these people are actually better prepared and cleaner than in restaurants because they care more about their businesses.
     
    I have eaten a lot of street food in Asia and China in particular and have never gotten ill. I assure you that the Chinese government does not concern themselves with these issues nearly as they do in the USA and western countries. There was one small Chinese place I went to in Hangzhou, but their kitchen, never mind that hellhole. Let's just say if that place was in the USA, it would have been shut down forever, fined $10,000, and the owners put in jail. But the food was wonderful, go figure.
    #3
    MobileCuisine
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/01/04 16:01:11 (permalink)
    You nailed it with your point about the brick and mortar restaurants owners. They are crying foul that the truck owners wouldn't have to pay property taxes, they suggest that trucks roaming the Chicago streets would create mass chaos and force many restaurants to shutter.
     
    Of course all of these concerns are a simple guise to prevent additional competition. Hopefully once a new mayor is elected here, the proposed ordinance will come out of committee, and the food truck owners will get a chance. As it is right now, we have less than a dozen food trucks, most of which are cupcake trucks (they are good though). The problem our trucks have is they can not prepare anything on their truck, so that even eliminates the chance of a hot dog vendor from operating if they keep the weiners in a steamer.
     
    It is truly a shame that a city like Chicago is getting left in the dust because a few restaurant owners think these trucks will have an unfair advantage over them (which is a false premise anyway).
     
    -MC
    #4
    6star
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/01/05 01:30:40 (permalink)
    I am not trying to get anyone upset, and I am certainly not saying that this person is right and that person is wrong with their particular actions, but over the last few years, since mobile food dispensing (hot dog cart, food truck, trailer, etc.) owners have been posting on Roadfood, I have observed that a few of them seem to have no problem setting up near a brick and mortar restaurant (and effectively going into competition with the brick and mortar) but will get very upset if another mobile food dispensing unit with similar food to theirs or (heaven forbid) a non-profit organization selling anything sets up near their location on the street or at a festival, to compete with them. 
     
    I hate to tell you this, folks, but these two scenarios are just two sides of the exact same coin.  It is no different than a city having a "restaurant row" with a variety of restaurants in the same area, sometimes with two or more restaurants of the same type.  If you are going to compete with the brick and mortar, then expect others to find it perfectly acceptable to compete with you.
    #5
    analei
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/01/05 14:44:15 (permalink)
    That sounds pretty reasonable 6star.
    #6
    MobileCuisine
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/01/10 13:15:08 (permalink)
    Agreed 6star. Food Trucks/carts need to set up "fair" rules with their cities. Setting up right outside of a restaurant does seem to be crossing a line. I know many cities have distance limitations of 200 or 300 ft. To me this seems "fair".
     
    -MC
    #7
    Chic@go Dogz
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/03/16 09:44:18 (permalink)
    Yeah, Chicago is a real pain when it comes to selling stuff on street. I hope our "New" Mayor, Rahm, will be a nice guy and break this "Daley Law".

    I see people selling Tamales and Mexican Corn and I've never seen a cop pull any of them over or even asked for their license information. I've even seen cops buying the corn. But be a little more Professional with a Professional Cart and they ask for the world, including your mothers maiden name.
    #8
    pnwchef
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2011/03/16 18:24:17 (permalink)
    Chicago has other large cities like LA and NYC to ask what works, and how best to control the Food trucks. Why go through the growing pains of learning by a process of trial and error when the info is already waiting for them..................
    #9
    Chic@go Dogz
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/14 02:26:39 (permalink)
    I've Eaten at Brick and Mortar Restaurants in Chicago and have "Smashed" roaches from under the Sugar dispenser, and have had "Rats" run right under my feet and "You" think these places are Permitted to Stay open and Operate and Mobile Food Carts Arent? Which one is more sanitary? We need a Petition and Sanitary Guidelines. Not some "Mayor Joe Quimby-Daley" With these "Communist" Law, BAN ALL CARTS!!!!!!!
    His DAD Permitted HotDog CARTS when his DAD was Mayor!!! Thats the funny thing....I'm glad he's gone!
    #10
    RodBangkok
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/14 07:54:24 (permalink)
    B&M rules in the windy city.  Motivation...kickbacks from every regulatory agency and local districts in the city been that way for a very long time, and will never change.  Illinois and Chicago style dealings go back too many years to change now, they just get a little harder to identify and root out as the years go by.  
    #11
    pnwchef
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/14 16:50:51 (permalink)
    I agree with Chicago not allowing Food vendors in the Down town Magnificent mile area. I can't even imagine what the Sg ft cost would be to open/have a restaurant in that area. I wouldn't think anyone paying that kind of money would want street vendor competition. I stayed in that area a few years ago, I had no problem finding any kind of food I wanted.
      I feel, street food/street vendors/food trucks could meet a need in some parts of the city that are a lot less congested. The only thing those Food trucks see are large amounts of people, they see easy money to be made. The Food truck culture should be allowed on the outskirts, they could offer ethnic foods that fit their own area of town. Street food is a culture that started many years ago when most cities were in the growing stages. The street food fit and served local favorites to local people during lunch time. If Chicago couldn't keep the street food, then it wasn't really needed or wanted by the masses. There is a place for everything, this obviously isn't the place. The only people screaming about change are the vendors, I don't see the masses in a uproar. If the masses were in an uproar, then, and only then, you will see change....pnwc
    #12
    MobileCuisine
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/26 11:51:39 (permalink)
    PNWCHEF: It shouldn't matter what the rent costs are in those areas. Some people claim that by not having to pay rent in the high rent areas is an unfair advantage, those people are wrong.
     
    The unfair advantage comes when a city government picks winners and losers and who they will support with their legislation. The food truck ordinance has been on hold for over a year now. The committee chair that is holding it up, is a restaurant owner. He is preventing the ordinance from even getting on the agenda, let alone an up or down vote.
     
    I have organized a number of food truck events in the city, and they have been huge successes, so to say the people of the city don't want them is crazy. Chicago is in need of tax revenue, and an easy way to help (not solve) the problem would be to approve the ordinance. Since last summer the industry has grown from 16 to over 50 trucks. Restaurants have yet to go under with this increase, as a matter of fact, many restaurants have opened up their own trucks.
     
    The food truck industry is still growing around the country yet Chicago politics keeps it from expanding even more in Chicago. The customers restaurants look for are a different crowd than many who want food trucks. Think about it, if you were planning on having a nice dinner and went into a downtown area. You see a food truck parked right in front of your favorite fine dining spot...can you honestly say you would change your mind and go to the food truck?
     
    -MC
    #13
    pnwchef
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/26 18:16:40 (permalink)
    I'm all for food trucks and Carts, I think there is a place for everyone and everything. I don't think having trucks in heavy traffic/ street parking areas is a good thing. If the trucks want to get involved in high traffic areas, then they should rent or lease private property, for a Pod of trucks and do it as a group to control the cost of the rent.
      The OP showed an article of a cupcake truck puling over in a " Loading zone"No parking zone. This isn't the way to run a business, If they had food truck pods, people would know where they are and be able to support the foods being offered. You also asked me if a food truck in for of a restaurant would take business away from that business. I wouldn't want a food truck in front of my restaurant. I feel it would be an eye sore and has no business being in front of my livelihood......pnwc
    #14
    Greymo
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/26 18:54:01 (permalink)
    I recently saw a food turck parked in a handicap parking space.  How is that for nerve?  I would not have eaten food there if the guy was giving it away!
    #15
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/27 09:30:56 (permalink)
    Saw a news report this morning about Chicago.  The average income in the city is $50,000.  Teachers there make an average of $74,000 and school administrators make an average of $120,000.  Together, they produce a graduation rate of 56%.
     
    The story concerned a Teacher's Union rep threatening bodily harm to wealthy private citizens (including Bill Gates) whose charitable foundations advocate for educational reform:  "If they try and come here we'll deal with them "Chicago-style!"
     
    Yikes!  I'd say Chicago has more "wrong" with it than just their policy about food trucks.
    post edited by MetroplexJim - 2012/01/27 14:59:51
    #16
    MobileCuisine
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    Re:What is wrong with Chicago? 2012/01/27 10:57:41 (permalink)
    Why shouldn't trucks be able to park anywhere others are able to park? The food truck event series I held this past summer was at the intersection of North and Halsted and was held from 4-7PM (rush hours) and there were never any issues. Three or four trucks parked on Halsted, traffic wasn't bothered at all. 
     
    In regards to the cupcake truck mentioned in the OP, Tiffany is a great business woman, and is one of the founders of the mobile food industry here in Chicago, as a matter of fact, she was the first sweets truck. Parking in a loading area for her is a matter of pulling over and putting the truck in park and opening her service window. The vendors are vary aware of what is happening around them, should there have been a truck that needed to load or unload in the area, she would have moved the truck. Also, I doubt she parked in a loading zone without speaking to the owner of the building to begin with.
     
    So the street in front of your restaurant is "yours"? A suggestion I have to any restaurant owner that is afraid of food truck is this...work on a better concept. Restaurants have sooo many more advantages over food trucks, if you can't get people into your place, that is nobody's fault but your own.
     
    -MC
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