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Food Truck Proponents Sue City

Group seeks to loosen restrictions against food truck operators

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There's a food fight on the streets of Chicago. Food truck owners say the city is blocking their way to customers. Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012)

    A public interest law firm filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Chicago in an effort to force officials to loosen the restrictions on mobile food trucks.

    "Consumers are with us. We know that. Food truckers know that. They want us, and I feel the city is just not giving me and my fellow food truckers a fair share," said Greg Burke with Chicago Schnitzel King.

    The Institute for Justice and three food truck operators, including Burke, filed the suit in an effort to remove the city's ban on the operation of a food truck within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant and a requirement to install GPS devices so their whereabouts can be tracked.

    "If food trucks could park anywhere they wanted to, just like a car, it would be a lot easier," said Laura Pekarik with Cupcakes for Courage.

    Last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a plan earlier this year that allowed food truck operators to cook on-site, and set up 23 new designated stations from which the businesses could operate. Some criticized the locations because there were only two in the Loop and its high foot traffic during the day, and a lack of locations on the city's South Side.

    "Whether your business succeeds or fails should turn on how good your product is, not who you know at City Hall," said attorney Robert Frommer.

    Others view it as a win for food truck operators because some of the locations Emanuel picked out are within the 200-foot zone and allow the trucks to roam into new neighborhoods like Lakeview and Wrigleyville.

    Some traditional restaurant owners oppose the food trucks because they're competing with businesses that don't have to pay property taxes.