Evanston moves to dismiss Chicago food truck’s lawsuit

Ciara McCarthy, Reporter

The legal conflict between a Chicago-based food truck and Evanston escalated recently when the city moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the vendor.

Beavers Coffee and Donuts is protesting an Evanston ordinance that says mobile food vehicles must be owned and operated by the owner of a licensed food establishment within city limits.

“We’re objecting to the provision that says, in essence, that you have to own a brick-and-mortar restaurant if you want to own a food truck,” said Jacob Huebert, the food vendors’ attorney with the Liberty Justice Center.

The doughnut truck has been in operation since the beginning of 2012 and regularly sells on other Chicago-area campuses, including the University of Chicago and DePaul University.

Beavers Coffee and Donuts has operated in Evanston at several Northwestern events, including Dillo Day. The company ran into barriers, however, when it inquired about selling regularly in Evanston, said Gabriel Wiesen, co-owner of the truck.

Initially, Beavers Donuts attempted to partner with an Evanston bakery to sell both that bakery’s products and Beavers’ doughnuts from their truck. However, Wiesen said they were told by city representatives that they would need to be majority owners of the bakery in order to operate the truck.

The Liberty Justice Center approached Beavers as the owners were encountering these obstacles, and the company decided to file a lawsuit with the Cook County Circuit Court’s chancery division.

According to Huebert, the Evanston law is unconstitutional on two grounds. The law violates the guarantee of equal protection under the law in the Illinois Constitution because it exists only to protect restaurant owners from competition, he said.

“You’re singling some people out for favorable treatment and everyone else for unfavorable treatment simply because the one group of people happens to own a restaurant and the other group of people doesn’t own a restaurant,” Huebert said.

Beavers Donuts is also challenging the law under the due process clause of the Illinois Constitution, he said.

A city representative declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Beavers Donuts will file a response to the city’s motion that is due on Oct. 29, Huebert said, and the court will decide whether the complaint has merit.

Wiesen said that this law hurts consumers and entrepreneurs in Evanston.

“It’s stifling the choices for consumers and it’s stifling entrepreneurship growth,” he said.