Game of T̶h̶r̶o̶n̶e̶s̶ *Food Trucks* – Chicago’s Mobile Vendors in an Epic Food Fight

Game of T̶h̶r̶o̶n̶e̶s̶ *Food Trucks* – Chicago’s Mobile Vendors in an Epic Food Fight


Should the city of Chicago be in the business of protecting a few politically connected restaurateurs from competition?

That is the question to be answered by a major lawsuit filed Wednesday, November 14, 2012, in Cook County Circuit Court by the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a national public interest law firm—and three Chicago-area food truck entrepreneurs.

Cities nationwide are experiencing the benefits of food trucks. But for years Chicago had not embraced that movement. For example, Chicago did not allow cooking on food trucks and it told food truck entrepreneurs that they must stay more than 200 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants. So in June 2012, when the city announced it would be revising its vending laws, food fans were excited.

The law that passed in July, however, continues to make it illegal for food trucks to operate within 200 feet of any fixed business that serves food. The fines for violating the 200-foot rule are up to $2,000—ten times higher than for parking in front of a fire hydrant. Further, the city is forcing food trucks to install GPS tracking devices that broadcast the trucks’ every move. According to the Chicago Tribune, “the ordinance doesn’t serve the needs of the lunch-seeking public. It benefits the brick-and-mortar eateries, whose owners don’t want the competition.”

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs. For more on the lawsuit, visit www.ij.org/vending.

73 Comments on "Game of T̶h̶r̶o̶n̶e̶s̶ *Food Trucks* – Chicago’s Mobile Vendors in an Epic Food Fight"


  1. How come the consumer is NEVER referred to or cared about in these discussions? Always those making money.

    The consumer would win if these stupid trucks were allowed.

    Patent laws – the consumer would win if they didn't fucking exist.

    The consumer NEVER wins!

    Reply

  2. IJ is litigating for economic freedom on the supply side, which as you said helps the consumers. What's more compelling in a video — a small business owner humbly standing up for her right to sell a good, or a consumer saying, "Yeah, I guess I WOULD like more lunch options…"? More importantly — whose testimony matters more in the court house? The lawsuit is about rights first and foremost, and indirectly about the consumer's options as a result. IJ, correct me if I'm wrong.

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  3. I would be against the laws if the foodtrucks actually paid a property tax like restaurants. They don't, as such the brick and mortar businesses should be supported.

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  4. Why does the type of tax matter? Chicago already has a healthy sales tax, particularly on food. Isn't that good enough?

    If 7-11 can't compete with food trucks, they should *run their own food trucks*, not whine to aldermen to effectively ban food trucks, and I'm sure the empty space will be utilized productively in some other manner. Let the market decide.

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  5. excellent video and it's expected as our lawmakers dont protect or fight for the rights of its weakest unborn…lawmakers restrain life and thwart their coexistance and competion among young people….know what i mean?

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  6. Ald. Brendan Reilly's Top contributors:
    Lettuce Entertain You, Gibson's, Tavern on Rush, Harry Caray's, Moe's Cantina and more…

    Source: IL Campaign for Political Reform, The Sunshine Project

    Reply

  7. Property tax liability falls on the property owner. In a net lease, tenant pays the property tax. This is a fixed cost of a BnM, incurring greater costs does not entitle a business to direct legislation for their benefit.
    Retailers pay sales tax, regardless if they are BnM or on wheels.
    2 different tax liabilities, but both contribute to Chicago and IL revenue. Property tax revenue is limited. Why have legislation that impedes new business from contributing additional tax revenue?

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  8. I'm merely pointing out that in this economy, and the fact that Illinois has a giant budget deficit, it only makes sense financially to protect the businesses that pay more in taxes. Don't misinterpret what I'm saying, because nowhere did I say that it's right to give one business an advantage over another.

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  9. Why would they pay property tax? They aren't buying property, nor do they own any. They also don't offer sit down indoor dining, nor do they have the facilities a brick and mortar business does.

    We shouldn't be punishing businesses of any form or competition to protect public revenue.

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  10. Tell you what, any restaurant that would openly support banning competition from mobile vendors is facilitating corporatist protectionism. That means they lose my business forever.

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  11. Portland, Oregon has tons of food carts. But most are NOT mobile: they stay parked, off-street, around the edges of pay-to-park lots. The carts CAN move, but most stay in their rented spots for months, if not years, at a time. It seems to work better than Chicago's model.

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  12. I don't mind you asking. I own Jewelry stores. Our vehicle is used for going between our two locations and has our logo and information on it so it doubles as mobile advertising. When's the last time you didn't pay an upfront tax and/or annual/quarterly on something you bought if you don"t mind me asking?

    Reply

  13. Truth be told, never. Everyone pays annually on everything it seems. Thank god for tax returns. 😛

    Also, can I have your safe codes to your diamond safe? 😉

    Reply

  14. Fantastic video, great victory for innovation and gree market. It just had to be translated and shared for others as example and encouragement: watch?v=AF4NNtnizRE Keep up the good work guys!

    Reply

  15. Well because these legal cases are not about some "common good" or "good of the consumer" (which are sideeffects) but about the NATURAL RIGHTS of individuals.

    Reply

  16. I get it, but Chicago's a competitive food city, if food trucks don't have to play by the rules and pay to for prime locations, neither do restaurants who pay enormous amounts of money/taxes on leases for prime locations/markets in the loop. Outsider "smart" food truck businesses should go directly to businesses throughout the city where there's a shortage of options…the days of Magnolia cupcakes are numbered anyway…yet somehow the roach coach survives…ask any construction site.

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  17. What about "capitalism in a free market" where the market, not the City Council would determine whether food trucks make it or are just a fad.

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  18. One of the many reasons Chicago will forever remain second or third to another metropolis. Born, raised and living in Chicago; I will always admire high points in the city's history and its beauty. But just like thriving cohabitation between food trucks and restaurants happens in NYC/LA yet seems to be impossible for Chitown…many otherwise forward-thinking moves are buried in the inertia of corruption and closed-mindedness here…

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  19. If you deny the masses the ability to receive a product of quality that they desire, as opposed to forcing them to take whatever crap you allow them to choose from, you might as well deny them the ability to see real art, and choose to wear colors. It's the most simple concept of the right to choose. The choice always defines the greatness, for the pathetic fail and disappear. Survival of the fittest in all aspects of life should not be denied.

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  20. Restaurants and food trucks are 2 totally different things, just like supermarkets and convenience stores are not the same thing. I dont go to a food truck when I want to sit down and be waited on, and I dont walk into a sit down restaurant when I want a hot dog. There is room in the market for both, and having both does nothing but benefit the consumer. Limiting one because the other costs more in the name of "fairness" is not only unconstitutional and unamerican it's ignorant and short sighted

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  21. Do the food truck vendors and the Brick & mortars share a similar tax burden in Chicago. Or are the Store fronts having to pay more overhead vs a Truck that can just up and drive away when things get bad? Some devils advocate to think about here.

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  22. These restaurant owners are either stupid ,corrupt or both. But my guess is mostly stupid. They presume that any sale to these truck would had been a sale for them. It's a common belief among many business owners. By their logic they would seek to ban cupcake sales because then people won't by large cakes from a bakery, or ban slim jims because then people won't order a large steak.

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  23. Doesn't matter who cares? That's the part of the pros and cons of any business. When it's cold, rains or snows, are the trucks as viable as an indoor eatery? Works both ways.

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  24. RE"yet somehow the roach coach survives" LOL because they are smart enough to find the market and fill the need. " play by the rules"? what are you talking about? Are you saying brick and mortors don't have an advantage in cold weather, rain or snow?

    Reply

  25. You have my shield, my sword and MY STOMACH!!!! Also I would be in favor of the GPS tracking but only so that I can drive to said food trucks and not for keeping tabs on them (making them optional of course).

    Reply

  26. It's important to understand that we live in crony capitalism **now**? How long exactly have you been here?

    Reply

  27. Congrats gentlemen. I've always asked "who the hell watches a 4-minute advertisement on Youtube just so he can watch a 20 second video of a cat playing with string?". This one did the trick, and successfully distracted the office for 4 minutes.

    Now I just want me a food truck.

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  28. There are a good food trucks in my town, I think it'd be sweet to have an app that showed me where they were in real time. Or maybe just stated their destination, at least.

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  29. Agreed. It got me to watch. And it got me to sympathize with their cause. Where can I help/donate for the legal cause?

    Reply

  30. I have a very successful food truck biz in Milwaukee…yeah, this type of big money restrictions are exactly the reason why I'm going brick and mortar for future expansion. I would never sign off on legislation so "anti-American"…but it makes you think, what is America? Is it a propaganda machine creating the promise of false hopes and dreams?

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  31. Instead of banning them, just get your own truck and park it out front, for the eat on the run crowd. That way you get both customers – the one who wants the sit-down meal and the one who's on the run. And you don't stop anyone else from earning a living – the other guy can always move his truck if he doesn't like your competition. Banning the food trucks sends the wrong message.

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  32. Well, the sit-down restaurants and the food trucks certainly aren't in competition with each other. The guy who grabs an empanada on the run from a food truck wasn't going to go for an hour's sit-down lunch, and the guy who WANTS the sit-down lunch won't settle for an empanada on the go. The businesses that do stand to get hurt are the little sandwich shops and carry-out places, who WOULD be in direct competition with the trucks.

    Reply

  33. I absolutely loved this ad! Like someone else said, this is the very first and only ad on Youtube I haven't skipped immediately past. Very clever, and way to nicely personalize it to Chicago!

    Reply

  34. yeah first part right.. but competition is what the free market is all about. I can't stand this entitlement mentality. They ( the truck operators) invested their money into something that is more efficient and had better ROI that the shops. The customers decide which is better, for them. For the record, illegals working here competing with legal citizen owned businesses is NOT fair, for reasons that should be self evident

    Reply

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