A tale of two cities. Indianapolis:
The emerging central Indiana food truck industry is receiving national attention. It will be featured on an upcoming episode of the Cooking Channel's "Eat Street." There are around 50 food trucks in Indianapolis, nearly double from spring 2011. One of the appealing aspects for business people is very few city regulations. Barnes & Thornburg Attorney Crystal Williams and Scratch Truck Owner Matt Kornmeyer talked about the growing industry during a recent appearance on Inside INdiana Business Television.
Williams says Indianapolis is one of the fastest growing cities in the country for food trucks along with areas such as Philadelphia and Raleigh, North Carolina.
She points out the city has very limited regulations including sanitation requirements and a restriction on selling on public property between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Though Chicago is increasingly known for its high-end restaurants, it lags behind other cities across the country when it comes to the food truck craze. The colorful trucks with their niche menus can operate here, but they are not full-service — meaning chefs can't cook and prepare food onboard — and they are governed by strict rules prohibiting them from parking within 200 feet from a restaurant.
After years of debate, the rules may be changing. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who doesn't like the idea of Chicago lagging behind pretty much anything, is hoping to make it easier for food trucks to operate in the city, while at the same time appeasing brick-and-mortar restaurants that have long been opposed to the mobile kitchens.
[. . .]
Though Emanuel's proposed ordinance would finally allow trucks to cook and prepare food onboard and would create parking zones around the city, it doesn't eliminate the 200-feet rule, quadruples the maximum fine for setting up shop inside that zone to $2,000 and would require trucks to carry GPS devices to track their every move. Some see the ordinance as a compromise, but others believe it still falls short and could lead to a prolonged turf battle between restaurant owners — who claim the trucks have an unfair advantage because they don't pay for things like property taxes and rent — and the truck operators.
Encourage business or discourage business -- it's really a simple choice.
I think food trucks are the coolest things on wheels, by the way. Food comes to me! It'd be nice to see a lot of them here in Fort Wayne. And with the anti-regulatory attitude of the City Council (Have a car? Start a cab company!), perhaps we will. Dunno, though. The county health department can be awfully fussy about food -- remember their zealotry about restaurants doing outdoor barbecuing?