Glenview, IL: Food Truck Operators, Beekeepers Prepare for New Glenview Ordinance Regulating their Activities

By Jeff Danna | TribLocal 

proposed health ordinance regulating mobile food-vending and beekeeping, among other activities, hasn’t yet received Glenview Village Board approval, but some people are already awaiting its impact.

The village board recently considered the ordinance, which is primarily intended to update Glenview’s health and sanitation code. It would also include provisions for new trends in home food-cultivation and food service.

“You’re the first (municipality) to welcome us with open arms,” said Gabriel Wiesen, who was at Village Hall Friday morning for an inspection of his food truck.

Wiesen and his business partner, Jim Nuccio, already operate their mobile business “Beavers Coffee and Donuts” in Chicago and Evanston, two municipalities that have recently accommodated the food truck trend.

“We’ve just been calling all local municipalities to see who will license us,” Nuccio said.

Glenview stands to be Beavers’ latest market. Although several mobile food vendors already operate in the village — mostly at construction sites — the new ordinance would provide further guidelines for businesses like Beavers that have expressed interest in opening in the community, said Mary Bak, the village’s director of development.

Wiesen and Nuccio said restrictions for operating in Glenview might be fewer than in Chicago and Evanston. In Chicago, the business is licensed as a caterer, and the employees aren’t allowed to cook the donuts in the truck, Wiesen said.

Evanston has been willing to let Beavers operate its truck, but a brick-and-mortar store also is required for mobile vendors, he said. Wiesen said Beavers has an arrangement with a local bakery that allows them to peddle donuts and coffee from the truck, as well.

Officials  in Glenview, however, have not been talking about those kinds of restrictions on food preparation. A draft of the ordinance states that food must be prepared in a licensed facility, which Bak said could be a truck.

If the new ordinance is approved — which is likely, given village trustees’ initial reception — the village would actually ease some other restrictions already in place.

Food trucks cannot now operate on public property and must get the permission of a private property’s owner to operate there, Bak said.

The new ordinance, though, would allow for trucks to operate in public places, providing they don’t cause disruptions.

Wiesen and Nuccio recently took inspectors through their truck, which is decorated on the outside with cartoon beavers eating doughnuts. They noted features like the three-compartment sink and full refrigerator and freezer.

Although doughnuts would be fried onsite, the ingredients wouldn’t be stored in the vehicle.

“Really, nothing’s kept on the truck,” Wiesen said. “It’s all kept in bakers’ bins in our kitchen” in Chicago.

Wiesen said the truck would sell mini-doughnuts with gourmet toppings like canolli, s’mores and crème brulee.

After the inspection, Bak and the other inspectors invited Wiesen and Nucci into village hall to fill out their license and pay a $60 fee. Once that was completed, Bak said, Beavers Coffee and Donuts could hit the streets of Glenview under the existing ordinance.

In addition to food trucks, the proposed ordinance would also cover at-home composting, farmers markets and beekeeping.

On Friday, the Stiglmeier family was pondering how the regulations could impact their beekeeping hobby.

John Stiglmeier is the only beekeeper in Glenview licensed with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the agency that keeps records of beekeepers in the state.

Stiglemeier said he wasn’t aware of the proposed ordinance until he was contacted by TribLocal. He said he was curious about the wording and village officials’ reasons for wanting to pass an ordinance.

Bak said that as with food trucks, people have become more interested in home food cultivation, and like Stiglmeier, they might want to give beekeeping a try.

Beekeeping actually dates back generations on the Stiglmeier family tree. John’s wife, Michele, said her grandfather was a beekeeper in Glenview. The couple’s daughter, Stephanie, had heard about beekeeping and thought it might make for an interesting pastime.

“I was just kidding around at first, but then I looked into it, and it sounded cool,” she said. “I though it was a cool tradition to carry on.”

A few years ago, Stephanie and John Stiglmeier ordered their first beekeeping kit — including live bees — from a business Downstate. Last year, John Stiglmeier built two additional colonies himself.

All three colonies are in the Stiglmeier’s backyard, which abuts a Cook County Forest Preserve west of the Tri-State Tollway.

“I can see in a tighter neighborhood … how it could be an issue,” John Stiglmeier said.

After hearing more about the proposed ordinance, he said some provisions seemed like sound regulations. For instance, the ordinance would require beekeepers to have their own water source on their property, near the hives.

“If you have a neighbor who has a pool and you don’t have water for them … they’re going to go over there and try to drink,” John Stiglmeier said.

But the bees aren’t as much of a nuisance — or danger — as some people perceive, the Stiglmeiers said. They rarely sting, unless someone tries to tamper with the hive. Stephanie Stiglmeier said she regularly opens the boxes without protective gear.

Plus, the family gets honey — lots of it. Last year, the Stiglmeiers said, they harvested about four gallons. And that’s on the low end of the scale. Stephanie Stiglmeier said the three colonies of bees could theoretically produce 18 gallons.

The Stiglmeiers said they give much of it to friends and relatives, but save some for themselves.

The proposed ordinance also would regulate placement of the hives on a person’s property and limit the number of them depending on the size of a property.

John Stiglmeier said the family’s operation likely wouldn’t grow any larger. His daughter, currently a senior at Glenbrook South High School, will be away at Mississippi State University studying horticulture next year, and he will be the primary caretaker of the bees.

But that doesn’t mean he’s finished with the hobby.

“We’re still learning,” he said. “We’re not experts by any means.”