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Let Chefs Roll On Food Trucks, Mayor Says

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Food Truck

A food cart in Philadelphia. (Credit: Chelsea Zimmerman)

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UPDATED 06/26/12 9:15 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicagoans may soon be able to eat cuisine prepared inside mobile restaurants, under a proposed expansion of the city’s food-truck ordinance Mayor Emanuel announced Monday.

The mayor will introduce an ordinance allowing for the expansion at the City Council meeting Wednesday, along with Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st).

The city has long prohibited food trucks from preparing dishes in trucks, requiring fare to be made in commercial kitchens.

“The food truck industry in Chicago has been held back by unnecessary restrictions, and my administration is committed to common-sense changes that will allow this industry to thrive, creating jobs and supporting a vibrant food culture across the city,” the mayor said in a written statement.

Emanuel’s office said the ordinance was developed with input from restaurant owners, food-truck operators and aldermen. Researchers looked at other cities that have had success with looser, but practical restrictions on food trucks. The mayor said public health would not be compromised.

Besides being able to prepare dishes on the spot, food-truck operators could park at designated stands across the city and could operate around the clock, provided they change their locations regularly.

City health inspectors would regularly inspect the food trucks, and at least one employee certified in food safety would have to be present at all times aboard the vehicle.

Food-truck operators would be required to use GPS devices so that city officials and consumers could track their locations.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports

Bricks-and-mortar restaurant operators previously opposed kitchens on wheels for competitive reasons, but Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) says that is attitude is changing.

“What we found in other cities is that it actually supplements the good restaurants,” he tells WBBM Newsradio. “In fact, a lot of restaurant owners in Chicago — some of the celebrity-status type — are really pushing for this as well.”

Passage of the ordinance could come as soon as early July.

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