Chicago Food Truck Operators Calling For Less Stringent Laws

CHICAGO (CBS) — Food truck operators are crying foul over the city’s recent crackdown of the time limitations and other rules.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on the call for a new ordinance with less stringent rules.

Francesco Abate has been serving pizza out of his food truck for two years. It’s been a seamless operation until now.

“This basically tells me that I was open two hours longer than they want me open,” Abate says, referring to a citation. He says this violation could cost him $1,000.

Manny Hernandez got a similar ticket two weeks ago. His first in five years.

“If I’m going to suffer, it means my employees are [going to] suffer and I might have to lay people off.”

Some 70 food truck operators are now complaining about a recent rash of tickets from city inspectors.

The city is suddenly enforcing rules on an ordinance passed in 2012, which means they existed when Abate opened his business.

His hands are tied, he says, because he can’t complain about a rule that’s already been set.

Still, he does.

“It’s almost like you have a little kid and he runs up and down the stairs and you never yelled at him…and now the kid’s five and you tell him he can’t run up and down the stairs.”

But the food truck operators have no sympathy from the general manager of Townhouse Restaurant across from where some food trucks line up.

“These are the rules that are set forth,” Kathryn Morrill, Townhouse Restaurant general manager said. “If they want to make a change, they can come together and make a change but until they do that’s how it is.”

Changing the rules…is exactly want food truck vendors want.

“Maybe we need to renegotiate this rule and maybe go three or four hours,” a food truck vendor says.

While the Illinois Restaurant Association supports the city’s crackdown, leaders in the food truck industry are working on a new proposal.

City officials say they were lenient on truck vendors to give them time to adapt to the ordinance, but they increased enforcement after some vendors were caught breaking too many rules.  

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