Start your engines: Mobile food news

June 28, 2012

I did in fact attend—and live-tweet—Wednesday's City Council meeting, where the mayor introduced his new mobile food ordinance. Notice I didn't say food truck ordinance, because it covers more than just trucks, but mobile produce merchants, mobile dessert vendors, as well as the trucks—aka mobile food dispensers and mobile food preparers.

"Preparers" means cooks, so yes, cooking on trucks. But as I asked last, at what price?

Answering the question literally, the new mobile food preparer license would be $1,000. The license for a mobile food dispenser—serving, no cooking—jumps from $275 to $700. Each license is good for two years. 

At the meeting there was no discussion of the ordinance, which has now gone into committee. You can read the mayor's amendments below, and the current ordinance in full here.

If it all goes through, the most notable changes you as a diner would see would be food trucks 24 hours—and between midnight and 5 a.m., anywhere. At other times the 200 foot rule would still apply, but clarified to at least 200 feet away from the principal customer entrance of street-level restaurants only. In restaurant dense areas, you'd find food truck stands, like taxi stands, or track them via GPS. Mobile food dispensers could add one last finishing touch, like a squirt of mustard or whipped cream. And yes, preparers could cook on board.

32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, who's worked closely with food truck owners and proposed an amended ordinance two years ago, plans to meet with owners next week. 

A public hearing will be held before a City Council vote.

"I heard the Mayor's staff say they want to get it done by end of July," said Waguespack. "The mayor could say 'effective upon passage' and then it's up to people to make sure they're ready to roll."

The next City Council meeting meeting is July 25.

Proposed Chicago Mobile Food Ordinance