City approves changes to food truck regulations

Nora Shelly, Assistant City Editor

City Council approved changes to Evanston’s mobile food vendor ordinance Monday night, which would allow vendors to open food trucks in the city without having a brick-and-mortar restaurant location in Evanston.

The previous mobile food vendor ordinance prohibited food trucks from operating in Evanston unless they were associated with an already-existing restaurant that had a brick-and-mortar location in the city. Under the previous regulations, the city has no licensed food trucks.

The city is being sued by the Chicago-operated food truck Beavers Coffee and Donuts over this portion of the former ordinance.

“We’re very happy that the city is revisiting its food truck ordinance,” said Jacob Huebert, an attorney who is representing Beavers Coffee and Donuts in their suit against the city, during the council meeting. “It’s going to be a great benefit, not only for startup entrepreneurs and small businesses like Beavers Coffee and Donuts, but also for the people of Evanston as they have more food choices.”

The suit is still pending, but Huebert told the Daily in May the revisions could affect the lawsuit.

City officials began the revision process in the Human Services Committee in March, and met with representatives from business district groups, restaurants and food trucks for input in April.

According to city documents, food trucks under the new regulations are prohibited from operating within 100 feet of the address point of a restaurant. Additionally, vendors looking to apply for a mobile food license will be required to submit the locations and times in which they hope to be operating.

Previously, the regulations prohibited food trucks from operating within a certain distance from all licensed food establishments, which included places such as hotels or schools — where food is sold, but not as the main form of business or function.

The approved ordinance recommends a pilot program for this summer, during which city staff will monitor the food truck licensing process, and any public health or zoning issues that come up with the food truck’s operations.

City Council will hear a report on the pilot program in late November, assistant city attorney Henry Ford told The Daily in an email.

“It sends the proper signal that the city is willing to work and be flexible,” said assistant city manager Marty Lyons at a Human Services Committee meeting earlier this month. “At the same time, it is respectful of all of our brick-and-mortar restaurants that we’re going to try something, and if that doesn’t create any concern, we are going to try something more and so on until we have a coexistence.”

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