Phillip Foss’ meatball subs are so delicious they should be against the law. Sometimes, they are.
Because of Chicago’s strict regulation of food trucks, vendors constantly risk fines as they make their rounds. Hopping from his truck double-parked in the Gold Coast on Tuesday, Foss said: “I like short stops. Less chance someone will call the police.”
Foss and other food truck operators should be viewed as creative entrepreneurs, not criminals. It’s time the Chicago City Council recognized that.
Alds. Vi Daley, 43rd, and Scott Waguespack, 32nd, have introduced an ordinance that would remove much of the legal distinction between food trucks and restaurants. The ordinance would give mobile vendors more leeway to temporarily park, in addition to letting them prepare food on-site.
As it stands, operators cannot park within 200 feet of a restaurant, making it hard to find spots to set up, especially in the restaurant-rich Loop. And that makeshift parking job could mean a ticket if an attendant is on the prowl.
Just as when Chicago overturned its ban on foie gras, Chicago aldermen need to repair our foodie credibility. Street cuisine is an essential piece of any food town, be it waffles in Portland or pork-rib soup in Singapore.
The proposal would even offer protection for restaurants grumbling about competition by banning trucks from operating within 200 feet of a restaurant selling similar cuisine and 100 feet from retailers who sell food.
We would prefer no buffer at all — the Colonel already can encroach on Popeye’s turf, after all. Even though restaurants complain that food trucks are cheaper to operate than restaurants are, the no-frills dining of the food trucks is something entirely different. Something Chicago should permit.
We’re all for survival of the tastiest — no one is keeping those restaurants from launching their own trucks.
“That’s capitalism, Brother,” Foss says.
In the meantime, Foss’ tip jar speaks to something other than free enterprise. The label requests funds to pay his fines.