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Food trucks to cruise into Taste this summer

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Updated: May 14, 2013 6:10AM



Food trucks will be allowed to park at the Taste of Chicago’s evening concerts this summer, officials announced Friday.

The city also announced seven new food trucks will hit the streets, including the first three cook-on-board trucks.

“The food truck industry continues to build in strength and numbers, and my administration is committed to creating the conditions and opportunities that will allow this industry to thrive, create jobs and support a vibrant food culture across Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday.

At the Taste, which takes place between July 10-14 in Grant Park, the food trucks will park near the lawn seating at the concert pavilion. They will begin serving food one hour before each concert and continue to dish up their items during the show.

The trucks will accept the same food and beverage tickets as other booths.

Food trucks, which will have to pay a 25 percent commission on their revenues, have until May 15 to apply for a spot at the Taste.

As for the seven new food trucks, they join 110 already in operation and include the first cook-on-board trucks — The Salsa Truck, Porkchop and Jerk.

Last year, city officials approved a ground-breaking plan that allowed food preparation and cooking onboard rolling restaurants. Previously, they had only been allowed to sell pre-packaged food.

To appease brick-and-mortar restaurants concerned about the threat to their businesses, the city’s ordinance regulating food trucks requires them to set up shop at least 200 feet away from any “retail food establishment,” be in a location where they can “legally park” and not remain in any one location for more than two hours at a time.

The ordinance also created designated “food stands” exempt from the 200-foot buffer — with space for two food trucks — in congested, parking-starved areas.

Food truck owners complained about the 200-foot rule, the food stands in high-density areas and about GPS devices that could be used to impose heavy fines.

A lawsuit was filed in November by multiple food truck owners challenging key aspects of the ordinance. That suit is pending, their attorney, Robert Frommer, said.

Some restaurant owners were also upset. They were afraid that rolling restaurants that don’t pay property taxes would cut into their business at a time when many brick-and-mortar restaurants that do pay property taxes are struggling to stay alive.

The mayor’s office also announced Friday the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race will film an episode in Chicago this June.

Contributing: Fran Spielman



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