Committee backs mobile food truck plan

Aldermen on Evanston's Human Services Committee Monday night voted to recommend that the full City Council approve plans by local restaurant owners to operate a mobile food truck in the city.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, gets a tour of the mobile food truck from restaurant owner Steve Schwartz.

The plan requires adoption of a new ordinance to regulate such trucks. Currently the city permits distribution of prepared food by mobile vendors, but doesn't allow food preparation in the trucks.

The owners of Campagnola and Union Pizzeria parked the truck they hope to use in the city behind the Civic Center and gave aldermen a tour after the meeting.

Schwartz reaches to turn on the lights in the truck, which features a 12-burner gas range and other gear that he said makes it as fully equipped as most restaurant kitchens.

Restaurant owner Heather Behm said the truck would add another dimension to Evanston's reputation as the culinary mecca of the North Shore.

She said the 28-foot truck with its self-contained kitchen would meet the same inspection standards as existing restaurants "effectively dispelling any concerns regarding food safety."

She added that the goal was to bring food to locations where there is no food service now, that they "have no intention of opening up in front of somebody else's restaurant."

The truck built by Custom Mobile Food Equipment of Hammonton, N.J., also features a roll-out canopy to provide cover for patrons waiting for their food.

Russ Abell, general manager of the Hilton Orrington hotel, said he'd originally planned to oppose the food truck idea, "for the classic reason that brick-and-mortar restaurants pay real estate taxes and food trucks don't."

But he added, "If you could know that every operator applying for a license was as passionate and professional as those applying tonight, I wouldn't have any concerns."

The proposed ordinance includes a variety of restrictions on where mobile food trucks could set up shop -- including one that would bar them from locating within 100 feet of the entrance to a restaurant or near Evanston Township High School on school days.

It also restricts mobile food truck licenses to persons who already own a restaurant in the city.

Several other speakers at the meeting said they welcomed the idea of food trucks coming to Evanston.

Rebecca Noyes of 1219 Maple Ave., who said she manages a restaurant in Wilmette, said food trucks "are all the rage right now."

"Chicago is doing the same thing," she said, "and we have the opportunity here to show how to do it right."

"So many spots in Evanston could use this kind of business," she added.

The food truck ordinance is scheduled to be on the City Council's agenda next Monday night.

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Comments

Food Trucks in Evanston

What's wrong with food trucks by the high school on school days?  Many upper-classmen have privledges to go off campus to get their lunch already...what's wrong with providing some alternatives right on the school grounds?
ETHS' food service has done a much better job at providing healthy alternatives for the students and staff but the ability to look forward to some 'edgy' alternatives, even once a week would be a great idea.
Please don't leave the high school out of the equation!

$10 tacos?

I don't expect a mobile food truck operated by Campagnola/Union owners will be selling $2 tacos or $2 pizza slices.  

So?

What is your point? 
If you do not like the price, you do not have to buy your meal from the truck.  Simple.
I find it funny how some people find anything to complain about.

My Point

My "point," Dan, is that the food truck concept (particularly in LA and in the NY boroughs) offers inexpensive food. I don't think the average diner at Campagnola or Union pays under $50 at either restaurant. 
With our country's ever-growing disparity between haves (including those who make dismissive remarks like "if you don't like the price")  and have nots, I'd rather see food trucks with food and pricing that accommodates the masses.

The Food Truck - UhOh! Watch Out!

Here in southern California, the mobile food truck used to be very very commonplace. But something went wrong. They didn't really stay "mobile" in the way, let's say, an ice cream truck is mobile. Sure, it is a great kitchen, all decked out, great wheels, everything A-O-K. BUT, the owner/operator would find a most lucrative spot and park the truck there for breakfast and for lunch. Then some of the other food vendors started getting a little angry and demanded that the coaches move after a certain time. Some tried to park in the areas near sporting events, ball diamonds, beach, etc. Some try to go near Home Depot, Costco, OSH, types of stores. If you have places where casual labor gathers--the coaches often go there. Outside of factories is another spot. There would be nothing uglier than a coach outside of Lee St. Beach on a summer day. Yeccch! By the way, the name for these things is "RoachCoach." What I truly think is, "You'll be soooooorrrrrrry!"

You can buy food, but can't produce it yourself.

It is interesting that the Human Services Committee backed the proposal to expand people's ability to buy food, but--in voting down the chicken ordinance--they continue to restrict the citizenry's ability to produce their own food!

Mobile food

While I have not really formulated a position on whether Evanston should join the latest "all the rage" food service concept, I would like assurances that these mobile food trucks (SUCH an appetizing moniker) would stay far away from the lakefront; from Lighthouse Beach to South Blvd. Beach. 
I don't know if you've had the opportunity to sit and eat food at the KraveKoolHut at the Church Street / Dawes Park location, but you should take the time to do so.  Apparently they are doing a fantastic job, based on what can be heard whilst sitting at a Krave table or elsewhere in town; it would be a shame to let a mobile food truck come along and steal the show - or attempt to.
 

Mobile food

While I have not really formulated a position on whether Evanston should join the latest "all the rage" food service concept, I would like assurances that these mobile food trucks (SUCH an appetizing moniker) would stay far away from the lakefront; from Lighthouse Beach to South Blvd. Beach. 
I don't know if you've had the opportunity to sit and eat food at the KraveKoolHut at the Church Street / Dawes Park location, but you should take the time to do so.  Apparently they are doing a fantastic job, based on what can be heard whilst sitting at a Krave table or elsewhere in town; it would be a shame to let a mobile food truck come along and steal the show - or attempt to.
 

More mobile areas where workers have few alternatives.

It would seem that the mobile food to Lighthouse Beach and South Blvd. Beach would be ideal places.  Also a pass by NU/Garrett and maybe the two hospitals---yes I'm aware they have a cafeteria.  Esp. work area where there are not good inexpensive alternatives. 
Even the 'Loop' despite all the resturants, the food trucks do a very good business around the Exchanges [I don't know if they still do business around the 'Merc'] and construction sites.  Pizza, Mexican and probably more generic foods did very good business.
I would think construction areas in Evanston esp. outside the business district. would do very good business.  Even a pass through areas with housing construction.

Mobile food trucks

I would LOVE to see some health-conscious food in health-and-environment-conscious containers available near our lakefront----whether from a food truck , additional stationery vendors or improved choices from the one existing vendor stationed at Dawes Park.  Or all of the above!  
There is currently nothing available along the lake that meets my dietary requirements.  I can't even find a decent beverage!  I wish the sole Dawes Park vendor only good business, but I do not understand why anyone would argue that s/he is entitled to a monopoly...or that the current choices reflect the tastes of all Evanston residents.

  My biggest problem with

 My biggest problem with these roach coaches is sanitation. Yeah, I know, they have a City License and get inspected, but inspection days are the aberration. The day to day cleanliness of those operations are abbhorent.
Now, I don't mean to be gross, but this is food preparation we're talking about here when I ask the question: Where do you think the people working in these mobile restaurants take a crap?
Now that's not my normal thought process when I think about who's cooking my food, but ever since the time I walked up to one of them and caught the proprietor peeing into a plastic jug, I would hesitate to eat at one.
Alright, my first example there was a bit over the top, but come on...these people are working in a smal, confined HOT area, they've got to br drinking something, and everyone's got to pee once in a while. So, where do they do it?
And even more importantly, where and when do they wash their hands?
Do they do so after touching money?
I think not.
Signed,
Joe Predd, Evanston, IL

Potty breaks

 Hi Joe,
The proposed ordinance contains a requirement that if a mobile food truck remains parked in one location for more than two hours, the operator has to provide written proof to the city of an agreement with the owner of a nearby property that they have access to a restroom with hand sink no further than 200 feet from the truck.
The full draft ordinance is available online.
I guess while traveling around they're expected to make pit stops at McDonalds, like the rest of us do.
-- Bill

Food Truck Fad

I see this as a non-issue due to the fact the food trucks most likely won't last long. The city will place so many restrictions on these trucks they will eventually 'roll away" in frustration.
1) Anti-idling ordinance- Due to citizens complaining about the environment, they will be required to either shut the truck down so often it will interfere with food prep or pay fines for violating the ordinance.
2) They will most likely be required to relocate every few hours as to provide "equal" access to their product- See redistribution of wealth theory. This will force them to park in 'unprofitable' locations for an equal amount of time.
3) Noise Violations- See #1. The citizens in this town complain about noise from leaf blowers, generators, construction projects, and anything else that 'disrupts' their utopia. This truck will definately offend their senses.

Food trucks

Food trucks are great and here's why:

1. It's Fast
Given the nature of the ordering system, street food can be ordered, paid for and eaten in a relatively similar amount of time as fast food. The food trucks and carts require most chefs to prepare parts of the menu before you order, leaving less time for you to wait. The variable here is the line, but if you time it right by knowing your offerings and location before hand (shameless plug for Roaming Hunger here) you can be in and out faster than In and Out.

2. It's Specialized
Fast food, although increasingly less so in the last decade, have specialized menus based on the chain. The big boys do one thing particularly well and are usually brand synonymous with that item, think McDonalds and Big Mac. Due to the nature of food trucks and carts with incredibly limited preparation space, most vendors are limited to serving one thing and serving it well. The Kogi Truck reached new heights of popularity by limiting itself to be known for one thing, Korean BBQ tacos. Essentially, the smorgasbord of street food has to be achieved through multiple vendors: which is why in Venice, CA, the First Fridays event looks like an Oakland Raiders tailgate party with sometimes over ten vendors parked up and down the street.

3. It's Cheap
Street food is inexpensive relative to the quality of food served. Compared to fast food it may not be as cost effective per calorie, but if you compare total quality of food and preparation time to market, street food edges fast food out as the inexpensive option. With many people shying away from fast food after learning more and more about the sourcing of food (see Omnivore's Dilemma, Chapter 7) many street food vendors are using sustainably, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients to service a conscious clientele.

4. It's Fun
Fast food was fun too. I'll never forget the delight of opening a Happy Meal at McDonald's and then blasting down the plastic slide into the multi-colored ball pit when I was a kid. Street food carries a unique thrill of it's own. First off, the preconceived notion of street food in the United States and who eats off 'taco trucks' is an exciting one to break. Eating off a truck or cart for the first time carries an air of adventure and risk. This excitement and fun is what propelled the Gaga-esque super spike into the 2009 trend list for street food. Unlike fast food however, I don't foresee the joy of street eating to be as fleeting as growing up only to realize the toy and the slide is causing massive childhood obesity.

facts about food trucks

I'm no expert but I have seen and toured the food truck approved in committee. It is better equipped than most home kitchens, and cleaner than most restaurants. There is a full sink for hand washing, refrigerators, a fryer and grill, 10 burners. Awesome. And these trucks meet the same standards as restaurants for sanitation. Cockroaches? Where, exactly, would they hide on a truck?

This is not a $2 kabob stop. It's a restaurant kitchen on wheels. No, the food will not be low end, but given the owners' track record at Campagnolo and Union Pizzeria, it will be darned good. I'm betting the owners have no problem steering clear of ETHS, as selling $8 panini is probably not a great option. Nor would they be dumb enough to park near another restaurant, as they are Evanston restauranteurs themselves.

Since the owner is a neighbor, and very dedicated to organic and locally grown food, maybe the high school would be an interesting educational option to teach kids about healthy eating. I think I'll mention it.

I see this as a nice perk for neighborhoods, parks, events and I think they'll be catering quite a few private events. As long as the city doesn't get too difficult with all sorts of crazy caveats.

Just a hint to the cockroach and hand washing guys -- before you post online, get your facts straight.

Can't wait for the food trucks!

I've recently visited Austin, TX and Portland, OR, both home to many high-end food trucks. I hope Evanston can soon join the club of progressive places offering mobile, healthy, interesting food.

A great addition to Evanston

As someone mentioned earlier, it would be wonderful to have the option to buy healthy food when you're out and about and can't get to a restaurant (parks, esp James Park when you have to endure long baseball games!) I know the owners personally and can guarantee this truck would be nothing but high quality, amazing food. The idea of a roach coach is just ridiculous. Let's get with the times and maybe then Chicago could join in!

Restrictions

It also restricts mobile food truck licenses to persons who already own a restaurant in the city.
 

So this will take all of the fun out of it.  Why can we allow guest trucks to come and park in Evanston.  Of course, they would have to pay taxes, just like regular restaurants.   But it would be nice to have roving food trucks that travel the Chicago area , or even North America, stopping in a different place every day.
For example, Los Angeles has the Buttermilk Truck, which sells buttermilk pancake bites and Hawaiian bread French toast sticks.  It would be nice to have them stop by Evanston for a day.  And then maybe next week a different truck would come by, selling Belgian waffles  , and then maybe next week there would be falafels..  
 
What's the point of having only one or two trucks in the city, selling food from local restaurants?  How would it be any different than if these guys decided to just set up booths at the many street fairs and art shows that happen in the summer?   Enquiring minds want to know.
Can't we at least let some trucks from Chicago come up here?  Yes, make them pay a reasonable fee.
 
 

Food trucks

Evanston food establishments have been on the rise in quality for awhile now and the folks that run Campagnola and Union have lead the way.
These are tough time for businesses in general and if you have lived in Evanston long enough you have seen many shut down.  The profit margins in the food business are slim, very slim, and if you add quality to the ingredients the margins are even slimmer.
So here come these gents, laying out some serious cash, to add a fun, quality first, food option to Evanston.
What is the problem?  There will be oversight, they will be monitored, there is no down side here.  Get real!

Food Truck --- YES

With Chicago considering a similar move, I am convinced this is an inevitable (and welcome!) concept in Evanston. As Becca Noyes, a manager at the Noodle in Wilmette, said, this is our chance to show Chicago how to DO IT RIGHT. Since when do we as an entrepreneurial nation pooh-pooh great ideas? Either this will fail or succeed on its own merit; if it fails, it was meant to, but if it doesn't (I'm thinking it won't, considering it has the chef and owners of two amazing, completely different Evanston restaurants behind it, one a classic [Campagnola] and the other an instant classic from its opening day [Union]), then this is something that will only make Evanston more Evanston-ey. That is to say, wayyyy better than any other suburb in the country! GO HUMMINGBIRD!!! Sorry for the run-on sentences, but I have seen the truck and I am eagerly anticipating seeing it come down my street someday. Undoubtedly with some amazing, creatively concocted, street-food-meets-gourmand delicacy.

Great idea

The Mobil Food Truck is a GREAT idea. They are very popular on both East and West coasts. Steve Schwartz, Heather Behm, and Vince DiBattista who own this Mobil Food Truck in Evanston are top notch people. You can see that by the way they run their two Restaurants, Campagnola Restaurant and Union Pizzeria in Evanston. Plus you can sense the excitement in the Air from all the people in the area that are hearing about this Mobil Food Truck. I wish the owners total success in their new venture. BA


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