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Food Truck Legalization Challenged by Restaurant-Owning Alderman

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jun 16, 2011 3:00PM

Why does this news not surprise us? Despite the recent flurry of attention on food trucks, and Mayor Emanuel's campaign promise to legalize the mobile calorie-delivery systems, Alderman Tom Tunney (and other advocates from the restaurant community) are challenging the new proposal to allow trucks, saying it unfairly hurts brick-and-mortar restaurants. Since Tunney is now the chair of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee, under whose jurisdiction this proposal falls, the Sun-Times reports that trouble might be coming.

Chicago currently limits food trucks to serving pre-prepared food. The proposed ordinance would remove this limit, but prevent trucks from operating within 200 feet of a restaurant, which Tunney (who owns Ann Sather's restaurants) doesn't think is enough. He declined to propose a new number to the Sun-Times. Other restaurant advocates called for even stricter limits - Glenn Keefer, of Keefer's restaurant, wants food trucks kept out of downtown entirely, and Sheila O'Grady of the Illinois Restaurant Association wants to limit them to food deserts only.

Isn't competition supposed to be a healthy thing? We understand many of the objections of restaurants, since the cost of operating a food truck is very low. But it seems to us that food trucks are competing with food courts and chain fast food joints that serve up $5 lunches, not Ann Sather's. if you want a sit-down lunch experience, you won't go to a food truck - you'll walk on past to the restaurant. As long as trucks aren't parked in front of restaurant doors with sirens blaring, we think things will work out - a compromise should be considered.