By Greg Trotter
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Chicago is the only one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. to have a proximity requirement for food trucks. Under city regulations, mobile food vendors cannot park within 200 feet of a restaurant’s primary entrance. One cupcake vendor is challenging that rule, all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.
A cupcake food truck owner who believes Chicago’s regulations — including a rule requiring mobile vendors stay at least 200 feet away from bricks-and-mortar restaurants — are unconstitutional is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to take up her lawsuit.
If the state Supreme Court obliges, it will be the next step in a lengthy legal battle that began after Chicago announced new food truck regulations in 2012. Laura Pekarik, owner of the Cupcakes for Courage food truck business, filed a petition to the state Supreme Court late last week after the appellate court ruled in the city’s favor in December.
“What is just is just. … As long as (my attorneys) keep fighting for me, I’ll hold my position,” Pekarik said Wednesday.
Though Pekarik’s business is the sole plaintiff in the lawsuit, she has the support of many food truck operators in Chicago and across the U.S. City officials, meanwhile, say they’ve struck a balance that works for food trucks, restaurants and consumers.
Under city regulations, mobile food vendors cannot park within 200 feet of a restaurant’s primary entrance. Chicago is the only one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. to have a proximity requirement for food trucks, according to the National Food Truck Association.
The restriction makes it all but impossible for food trucks to serve the lunch crowd in the North Loop, said Robert Frommer, Pekarik’s attorney. Chicago food trucks can only legally park and operate on 3 percent of the curbs in the North Loop business district, according to an analysis by the libertarian law firm Institute for Justice, based in Arlington, Va.