Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Thanks to Time Out Chicago, food truck fans and followers in the Chicagoland area, now know where the candidates stand on the issue of allowing food trucks to operate within the city. Under a proposal by Aldermen Daley and Waguespack food trucks would be authorized by permit and regulated by the city to work on the streets of Chicago to sell their cuisine, and at the same time, be able to prepare the food on-site, unlike the current legislation which prevents anything but prepared food to be sold from trucks on private property.

Of the candidates running for Mayor of Chicago, an election that will be held on the February 22, 2011, 92% support legalizing cook-on-site food trucks. This is a good sign for voters and those of us who frequent the city, but do not live within their limits and thus cannot vote in this election that food trucks may be closer than ever once the new mayor is elected. Here are what the candidates said.

Carol Moseley Braun: “Support, and I applaud Ald. Waguespack’s leadership on this issue.”

Cynthia Plaster Caster: “Well, if they allow it in cities like Chicago, then they’ll have to legalize it in other great cities like New York and Los Angeles…oh, wait!…they already have! It’s ridiculous that cook-on-site food trucks are not allowed. Especially when you see them for movie-set catering.”

Gery Chico: “They need to be held to the same health and safety standards as bricks-and-mortar restaurants. As long as the source of the food is safe and the equipment used to store and sell the food is safe, I believe it will enrich our experience as citizens to be able to taste foods and have culinary experience from other cultures throughout the city.”

Annazette Collins: “I didn’t know that was an issue because I see those food trucks all the time but I didn’t know they couldn’t cook on them. So we’d have to hire more city inspectors to license them and inspect them. That would give more people jobs. I’d probably be okay with that.”

Christopher Cooper: “I support it. I am a native New Yorker—raised in New York City—one of the things that I miss about NYC are the sidewalk pushcarts on which food is prepared.”

Miguel del Valle: “Cook-on-site food trucks represent healthy competition and open up more entrepreneurship opportunities in a city in need of job creation. These food trucks could also be used to bring more food access—including nutritious options—to underserved neighborhoods.”

Rahm Emanuel: “I do not believe cook-on-site food trucks should be illegal. The ordinance proposed by Aldermen Daley and Waguespack takes a good first step by allowing for preparation of fresh foods on mobile food facilities and commissaries throughout the city, while maintaining stringent health regulations and protecting local business owners. I believe we should be doing more to promote access to fresh foods throughout the city and encourage innovation in our food industry.”

Rickey Hendon: “I’m not as familiar with cook-on-site food trucks, but I wouldn’t necessarily be against them as long as they are licensed.”

Rev. James T. Meeks: “Food trucks overall have the potential to create new employment opportunities and small-business growth, so it’s definitely a boost to the local economy. If they obey the health and safety rules, I’m in favor of it.”

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr: “Naturally, I am in favor.”

William “Dock” Walls: “I am in favor of cook-on-site food trucks. Cultural events are made better when participants , attendees and others have an opportunity to taste the local fare. The trucks will enable vendors to achieve their dreams.”

Fredrick K. White: “I am against it. It would be wrong to have trucks sitting outside established restaurants competing for customers. It would also be very hard to enforce any type of health codes.”

As you can see, other than Fredrick K. White, it appears most of the candidates will provide their full backing of the food truck industry in Chicago just  as other major US cities currently do. Apparently Mr. White hasn’t left the city to visit other metropolises like Los Angeles, New York, or Washington DC to see how mobile cuisine is helping provide jobs, additional tax revenue and fantastic foods to population in these areas.

Betsy Butler

The results are in and they show that Betsy Butler prevailed in the 53rd Assembly District race against local Tea Party founder Nathan Mintz. There is no way to know how many votes Butler received from food truck supporters in a district which includes cities such as Torrance, Lomita, the beach cities, El Segundo, Marina del Rey, and parts of Los Angeles at the northern tip of the district.

The SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association, which represents over 60 food trucks, started backing Butler during her Democratic Party primary run and continued during the general election. According to Matt Geller, Vice President of the association, “She sees the benefit of food trucks in that area.”

Butler, 47, a Marina del Rey resident, will succeed term-limited Democrat Ted Lieu. She survived a competitive eight-candidate primary in which she was forced to spend heavily to counter a well-financed special-interest campaign targeting her years working as a fundraiser for California’s environmental nonprofits and state trial lawyers association.

The race in the 53rd Assembly District was the only federal or state contest in the South Bay without an incumbent identified by prognosticators as fairly assured of re-election.

As our industry becomes more main stream throughout the country, more and more cities are beginning to look at starting a dialog to determine if food trucks have a place in their communities. We have researched many of the common points brought up by those opposing mobile vendors. Although many of those against the rise of food trucks have ulterior motives that circle back to the brick and mortar restaurant industry. If the industry is to continue its growth, we need to identify those issues, sit down and civilly discuss that food trucks are not the danger to restaurants and communities that many are trying to convince cities they are.

Food Trucks don’t pay rent.

They may not have leases or rent payments as high as restaurants, but food trucks still have to pay for commissary space to clean and restock their “kitchens,” they pay for licenses, permits, food and staff. In many communities, food trucks also are legally required to pay for rent on storage space and commissaries where they do most of the prep work. In cities such as San Francisco, mobile vendors are charged upwards of $10,000 a year to maintain their licenses in certain districts. New York City has a limit of permits they issue to street vendors which include trucks and carts. Outside of liquor licenses, cities do not limit the amount of restaurants which can operate within their city limits.

Food Trucks unfairly compete with brick and mortar restaurants.

One of the most common complaints by dissenters is that Food Truck operator’s relatively low costs give them “an unfair advantage”. Before the recent uptick in mobile food vendors across the country, this occurrence in the restaurant industry was always referred to as a “competitive advantage.” So long as the owner of a competitive advantage was passing the benefit of their “advantage” to their customers in terms of value both economically and the quality of their cuisine, this has always been looked at as a positive. The fact that the mobile catering industry has changed its perceived limitation as a “food of only convenience” is what has shifted consumer perception. The current emphasis on value in the market strongly favors the Food Truck model, and is what has attracted many consumers to the new generation of food trucks.

Food Trucks only go to trendy areas and potentially prevent new food centered areas from emerging.

Of course food trucks go to trendy areas, food trucks thrive in areas with high foot traffic, but at the same time, isn’t that what restaurant owners try to do when they open up? They find areas where their business model has the best chance to succeed. Why should food trucks be held down to a foundation or lease if all they have to do is start up their truck and drive to another area where consumers spend their time?

It can also be said that trucks develop something close to cults. Food trucks have followers, the difference lies in their devotion and as shown to date, food truck followers will follow their food wherever it is, so new trendy areas can be created by food trucks that new restaurateurs can follow if they choose.

Food Trucks leave clouds of diesel fumes and noise in their wake.

The longer the food truck industry is popular; technology will help it to become greener. Many trucks around the country already run their vehicles off the vegetable oil they produce so as to cut down on oil costs for fuel and the emissions their trucks create. If they are so concerned about the environment, are they as critical of restaurants that generate upwards of 41% of their carbon foot print from merely heating and lighting their restaurants? Dependent on the area of the country and what is their source of power generation, I’d certainly take a food truck that is driving around town on vegetable oil or biodiesel, over a restaurant that requires nuclear or coal based power generation.

Food Trucks generate more trash in areas with already overflowing trashcans and few sidewalk recycling bins.

This is an area where we may be in agreement currently, however the food truck industry is evolving. An example of this can be seen in San Francisco where the group Off the Grid has created lots for food truck festivals throughout the week. When they started, they were holding 3 hour events where approximately 300 hundred consumers attended every hour, now they are holding 4 hour events with upwards of 700 consumers showing up every hour. Their solution? Asking each vendor to provide a trash can outside of their vehicle as well as charging each truck a little more for their participation so the event planners can hire more assistance to help clean up the site.

Food Trucks create more traffic on the streets, thus more deaths related to crashes will increase.

Since food trucks spend the majority of their operating time parked in a lot or a parking spot selling their fare, this point seems moot. Another way to look at this argument is that food trucks use social media to inform customers of their location from day to day. Much of their sales come from people already in the area, as opposed to many brick and mortar establishments which get people taking taxis or driving themselves to the restaurant’s permanent location. Imagine the cuts in deaths due to traffic incidents if people stopped using taxis or personal vehicles to get to their food source?

These are far from all of the negative points driven by those who do not back the food truck industry, but we have found these to be the most common. If you are aware of other topics which are used to attempt to dissuade municipalities from approving laws and regulations which allow food trucks into their community, please forward them along to us, and we will follow up this article with those additions.

It’s Election Day

Posted: November 2, 2010 in Food Trucks, Politics
Tags: , ,

Most polling locations around the country have opened and will remain so until 6-8 PM local time. As Americans we are given the right to vote for candidates and proposals for any reason or political slant we hold. Make sure to use this right as many Americans in the past have been prohibited from voting based on archaic laws centered on race and gender.

During the 2010 election cycle Mobile Cuisine Magazine has not campaigned for or against any candidate or proposal on today’s ballots. In the future we plan to inform our readers about candidates as well as proposals and referendums to give them information to allow them to vote based on facts (not spin) about how voting one way or another will affect the food truck industry locally and nationally. We do not claim to be the next great lobbying voice, but at the same time, we can do our part to make our readers informed about a subject that means as much to us as it does to you.

Let your voice be heard, get out and vote!

 

Food Trucks in Chicago?

Posted: September 29, 2010 in Chicago, Food Trucks, Politics

The first season of The Great Food Truck Race is over and the people of Chicago have had their opportunity to learn what numerous cities across the country have known for years; Food trucks and street food can provide a community another avenue to find great tasting, convenient and safe sources for cuisine. For years entrepreneurs have tried and failed to get the city leaders to listen to their requests to ease the stringent city zoning and health department regulations that only allow pre-prepared, pre-packaged foods to be distributed to those of us who frequent the city on a daily basis.

Around the country many mobile food trucks are owned and operated by top chefs, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs from their area. Imagine, spending a Saturday at the lakefront enjoying a savory Rick Bayless dish. Steak, tacos, crawfish, ribs, pulled pork, waffles, sausage, ice cream, kabobs, sushi, egg rolls, or hummus are just a few of the possibilities.

Today we feature a group of Chicago food service professionals who have started a movement online at ChicagoFoodTrucks.com to garner support for an ordinance that will allow mobile food vendors to operate within the city limits of Chicago. Started in May of this year, founders Matt Maroni and Phillip Foss are leading the way to persuade hold out aldermen to allow mobile food vendors to start serving in-truck prepared meals. An ordinance was proposed by Alderman Scott Waguespack -32nd, and Alderman Vi Daley- 43rd, in July, but it’s now September and nothing has been passed. Even if passed today, it could still take upwards of 120 days before you might see any of the proposed trucks parked along the city streets.

Please visit the site and show your support. We’ll keep you up to date as things change.