Foodservice Equipment Reports

Chicago Food Trucks Finally Start Cooking, But D.C. Ops Await New Regs

On the last day of January, six months after the Chicago City Council legalized cooking onboard food trucks, the city issued its first license for on-site food prep and cooking. The city has been under fire from food truck operators and prospective customers for its lengthy and contentious approach to curbside, mobile foodservice. It took two years of lobbying just to get the city to allow onboard cooking instead of vendors selling only pre-cooked, prepackaged items. A modified ordinance finally passed last July, but it pays heed to the city’s strict code on gas lines and exhaust hoods and restricts the trucks’ hours, traffic paths and parking areas.

The erstwhile second city is a step ahead of the nation’s capital. Food truck operators in Washington, D.C., are operating under antiquated regulations governing ice-cream trucks. For two years, the District has been wading through thousands of public comments on potential regulations and working on several draft proposals. The D.C. City Council would have to approve any changes.

“The current regulations are 30 years old and are designed for ice-cream trucks,” Doug Povich, chairman of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, told the Washington Examiner. "We've been trying to get regulations in place for years."

Right now, food truck drivers can be ticketed if they are parked legally without a line of customers outside their vehicle, even if they haven't opened for lunch.

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