By Denys Bucksten | Chicago Tribune
Vendors seem eager to operate food trucks in Highland Park, so city officials are beginning to explore the idea.
It’s a popular service elsewhere, and Highland Park officials say more than 25 inquiries about food truck permits were made in 2012.
Deerfield has only had two inquiries, so any plans there are on the back burner.
“We’re not doing too much of anything on this issue,” said Clint Case, of Deerfield’s office of zoning and permits. “The staff is not looking into it at this point.”
The sophistication of food handling technology on wheels — married to mobile phones and modern social media — has boosted the popularity of food trucks nationwide, especially in warm weather regions or densely populated urban areas.
Highland Park’s Business and Economic Development Commission is just beginning to study the licensing of food trucks. It does not expect to have a recommendation for the City Council for at least 60 days, said Deputy City Manager Ghida Neukirch.
“We have had individuals expressing interest in operating a food truck within the city,” she said. “And that’s why we want to study it.”
She quickly added that the city “is very sensitive that allowing vending trucks does not impact the existing restaurants in the community.”
In other areas where food trucks have been allowed, local governments sometimes add layers of restrictions, taxes and fees. Local officials elsewhere have been wary of interfering with the business of bricks and mortar restaurants — and the sales taxes within their municipal boundaries.
Neukirch said the city will look at other municipalities’ regulations before recommending a course of action. One issue to consider is how to handle parking for food trucks, she noted.
The idea that a roving restaurant on wheels could park close enough to an office park to impact sales of existing, long-standing restaurant sites is something city officials are taking very seriously, she said.
An option might be to allow such vendors at school, civic or park district events — places where there is no conflict with established concession stands or nearby restaurants, said Neukirch.