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New Food Truck Rules May Hurt Ice Cream Trucks

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 24, 2012 3:00PM

Photo by Mat Martin.

You can mess with our gourmet meatballs, our freshly steamed bao, even our tamales. But you'll have to pry the ice cream from our (very) cold, dead hands. WBEZ reported Wednesday what should have been obvious to all of us (and this is why we give money to public radio): ice cream trucks, even those that were perfectly legal before, will be affected by the new food truck ordinance.

Ice cream truck owners claim they weren't consulted during the process and that the new ordinance will hurt their business. They won't be able to go near brick and mortar restaurants, will have to install GPS devices and avoid established "truck stands" if they are already occupied by another food truck. This is particularly complicated for them, since the new ordinance largely bases rules on the assumption that modern food trucks park in one place and distribute their wares, while ice cream trucks and carts are constantly on the move.

The city claims that the ordinance expands business opportunities for everyone. On the other hand, an ice cream truck owner interviewed by WBEZ claims that he is barely breaking even now and may not be able to turn a profit with more regulations.

More interesting, one of the reasons they weren't consulted is that they've already been operating for so long before the current trendy food truck explosion. Why does this matter? Well, turns out ice cream trucks are already subject to some fairly onerous rules and regulations, which will still be in force in addition to all of the new rules and requirements.

Yet, ice cream trucks must continue to comply with old restrictions that keep them off many streets in 10 different wards, in addition to the guidelines set in the food truck ordinance. Wards 2, 11, 13, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 30 and 47 (map) all have old laws on the books, some dating back to the 1990s.

Depending on how much ice cream truck owners are willing to deal with, those happy tunes may disappear from even more neighborhoods.