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Donut guys challenge Evanston food truck law

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The owners of a food truck filed suit today challenging Evanston's rule that only owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants can operate food trucks in the city.

Backed by the Liberty Justice Center, a Libertarian-oriented public-interest litigation group, the owners of Beaver's Coffee and Donuts allege in their complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, that the city ordinance violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the Illinois Constitution.

James Nuccio and Gabriel Wiesen claim the donut truck meets all the health-related restrictions in the city code, but they can't get a city license solely because of the ownership restriction, which they claim is designed simply to protect existing restaurant owners from competition.

A YouTube video produced by the Liberty Justice Center to help make their case against the Evanston ordinance.

Evanston City Attorney Grant Farrar, in a news release, said the ordinance had been carefully crafted.

"City staff worked for months over the course of 2010 to develop a mobile food vendor ordinance, the first of its kind in Illinois, which then in turn was assiduously and thoughtfully considered by the City Council." Farrar said.

Farrar vowed to "aggressively defend the city’s ordinance."

In addition to requiring that food trucks be owned by restaurant owners, the Evanston ordinance sets limits on where they can operate, largely designed to reduce competition for existing restaurants.

In City Council debate aldermen indicated they wanted to favor the restaurant owners, who unlike the food trucks directly or indirectly pay property taxes to the city, as well as the sales taxes that both food trucks and restaurants are subject to.

The food truck ordinance here was adopted at the request of the owners of Campagnola and Union Pizzeria, who dubbed their truck the Hummingbird Kitchen.

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