What Does the Ilinois Restaurant Association Think About Food Trucks? | Bleader

What Does the Ilinois Restaurant Association Think About Food Trucks?




Some action on the food-truck front going down tomorrow. From the office of 32nd Ward alderman Scott "not for mayor" Waguespack, the food-truck ordinance's chief sponsor:

9/30/10 — Alderman Waguespack and his staff will brief other Aldermen regarding the proposed Mobile Food Facilities Ordinance on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. The purpose of these meetings is to acquaint members of the City Council with the details of the ordinance prior to scheduling committee hearings. These briefings are specifically for Aldermen and their staff, and are closed to the public. If you support this ordinance, please let your Alderman know.

On a side note, since I've been covering this issue, I've repeatedly tried to find out if the Illinois Restaurant Association has an official position on food trucks. Widely viewed as just another arm of the mayor, the IRA's support or opposition could be crucial to the future of food trucks in Chicago (at least while Daley is in office). No one from the IRA has ever returned my calls. Perhaps they've all been stuck waiting in line somewhere.

It's clear, however, that the idea of food trucks seems troubling to some minds at the IRA. A few weeks ago the latest issue of Seasonings, the IRA's print newsletter, hit its member's mailboxes, and its Government Affairs column noted that the "Government Relations Committee held a special meeting on August 18 to discuss the ordinance." It makes no mention of the meeting's outcome.

But elsewhere in the rag, attorney Bob Shannon, author of the Legal Advisor column, outlines the mobile food movement for his readers with particular emphasis on the problems some other cities have had with food trucks (fears from brick-and-mortar restaurants, parking issues, trash, traffic flow)—and none of the benefits. Shannon also notes that Chicago's draft ordinance "at present, does not limit the number of food trucks that can be licensed" and that although trucks will be prohibited from the Medical District, "there is no indication that the impact on parking and traffic flow in other areas has been studied in detail."

In conclusion he advises his readers that "Because of the the potential impact, members are encouraged to be on the lookout for proposals in the areas they operate, and to contact their representatives to assist in making sure that any proposal is as favorable as possible to the restaurant industry."

Related: One thing I didn't realize about Evanston's new food-truck law is that in order to start your own truck, you have to already own a brick-and-mortar restaurant. That's not very sporting, now, is it?.