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Food Turf Wars: Chicago-Style

If you thought the hottest race in Chicago is going to be the race for mayor, think again. Unless Rahm Emanuel gets into a fist fight with Carol Moseley Braun or has a Howard Dean-like eruption, my focus will be on the real battle -- our city's fight to be a haven for mobile food trucks.

 

Honestly, I didn't even think there would be opponents. Currently, Chicago allows trucks that serve already prepared food; they just can't cook it while on-the-go. Alderman Scott Waguespack introduced an ordinance that would eliminate this barrier, allowing for a vibrant food culture that's definitely missing from Second City's gorgeous (albeit brief) summer weather.

 

An article in The Chicago Sun-Times today revealed opponents that I didn't even think about: restaurant owners. Their argument comes down to competition -- they don't want it. Some say the city can't handle inspections while others say food trucks could put restaurants in danger of going under. Here's my favorite (enter sarcasm) quote from Dan Rosenthal, owner of Trattoria No. 10:

“People think you’ll get all these hot, young chefs who don’t have access to capital creating all these great, exotic dishes. But, there’s nothing preventing Corner Bakery from doing food trucks."

Really? Shame to such cynicism! As a consumer, I'd like more variety. I want to have a new experiences. When it comes to jobs, this seems like a no-brainer. Chicago needs to be looking at all types of ways to inject some economic boom in the midst of a slumpy economy. The Wall Street Journal had a great article about the ridiculous harassment food trucks currently face.

 

Chicago isn't likely to ban Happy Meals...however, banning a whole industry of food possibilities is not only foolish, it makes my stomach growl with a vengeance.

 

*This article was in no way meant to take a stance on the Chicago mayoral race. I would like to keep all my fingers.

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