Chicago outlaws almost all food carts. No matter how safe, no matter how popular, no matter how delicious, no entrepreneur in Chicago may sell prepared foods from a cart on the sidewalk. Yet, food carts operate safely and legally in the parks and beaches, as well as farmers markets and street festivals.
Because Chicago outlaws almost all food carts, current vendors operate in fear of being stopped. Vendors who are working hard to earn an honest living by serving food to hungry neighbors are ticketed, fined, insulted, and even arrested by Chicago police. To hear a vendor tell her story, watch this video. Aspiring vendors with great business ideas, like a bicycle trailer with kegs of iced coffee, or a sidewalk cart selling handmade bagels to commuters, are informed by BACP that their entrepreneurship is not welcome in Chicago. Chicago turns its back on the small businesses that could send a child to college, feed a hungry tourist, enliven a lonely corner, or even grow into a major corporate citizen. After all, Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in New York and just went public.
A change is long overdue.
On May 28, 2014, Alderman Maldonado introduced a sensible ordinance to make sure these small businesses are both regulated and respected in our city. The ordinance would allow vendors to apply for a license to sell snacks and drinks that were prepared and packaged in licensed kitchens. The ordinance requires inspections and health consultations and safe operations. The ordinance was written by the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, in consultation with the Department of Public Health. That ordinance has received coverage in almost every major news publication in Chicago, including the Tribune and the Sun-Times. It has also earned the support of the nearly 2500 Chicagoans who signed our petition.
We are asking you to support the street vending ordinance. Urge the License and Consumer Protection committee to hold a hearing. Vote for the ordinance. Open Chicago up to vibrant cultural experiences in public spaces. Allow ordinary people to start businesses affordably selling affordable, fresh food in neighborhoods where it is needed. Allow Chicagoans with a small budget and a great recipe to earn an honest living.
Please take action today.