Street Food Legalization Picking Up Steam
By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 27, 2010 7:30PM
Back in high school we had an open campus at Lane Tech, which we used to skip the lunchroom completely in favor of hot dogs from a cart outside Jewel. The tactile memory of biting into those links, hearing the snap of the casing, smelling the celery salt and vinegar brine from the sport peppers can still be conjured in a heartbeat. It's street food. Pure and simple. In Bridgeport, there are a couple of hot dog carts that do brisk business during baseball season
The subject of legalizing street food carts and trucks (specifically, allowing cooks to prepare the food on the truck) has been gathering steam in recent weeks. If you haven't read Heather Shouse's detailed profile of Troy Marcus Johnson, operator of the only food truck in Chicago, do so. Johnson's truck, the barbecue-focused Chicago All Fired Up, is now facing possible revocation of its license after Shouse's article was published. Time Out Chicago, meanwhile, has used the momentum from Shouse's article and followups to launch Street Food Now. The primary focus of the website is advocacy; to spread the word about why Chicago should have licensed food trucks and carts and to get your aldermen involved.
Lockwood's Phillip Foss has also been an advocate of street food. The Reader's Mike Sula profiled the efforts of Foss and former Mid-America Club chef Matt Maroni to lobby City Council for legalizing food trucks and carts. When Foos and Maroni found out that they were working toward the same goal, they teamed up to start Chicagofoodtrucks.com. Foss drafted a proposal for legal food trucks that gained the interest of 43rd Ward Alderman VI Daley, while Maroni went to 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack. Both Daley and Waguespack are bullish on the proposal; other aldermen are taking a wait-and-see approach to it.
The way we see it, if the city wants to double the number of liquor licenses along the lakefront, then a rational proposal for legalizing street food carts and trucks should be given a look. TOC has drafted a form letter to send to your alderman. Might be the best mail you'll send all week.