Browsing articles tagged with " food carts"
Aug 29, 2014
Kim Rivers

An app for food truck lovers: UAH student, designer launching Foodie Radar in … – The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Harvest native Amanda Blanton was in the car searching for local food trucks with her boyfriend early this summer when a debate between the couple sparked the birth of a new business idea.

View full sizeAmanda Blanton, a UAH senior and designer at Modern Smart in Huntsville, is the brains behind Foodie Radar, a new app that gives smartphone users real-time information on local mobile food vendors and their menu options. (Contributed photo) 

The University of Alabama in Huntsville senior and graphic designer longed for an app she could open on her iPhone that showed the closest food trucks and what their menus were for the day.

“Gas is too expensive to spend the time and money looking for them,” she said. “So my boyfriend was like, ‘Why don’t you make one then?’”

A few months later, 22-year-old Blanton and local developer Trent Go are preparing to launch Foodie Radar, an app that gives iOS and Android users real-time information on mobile eateries in Huntsville and their menu options. The app also invites residents to connect with their favorite food vendors on social media.

Foodie Radar will be available to smartphone users within the next two months, while a second version with additional features, such as notifications and customer reviews, will launch next spring. As food trucks gain momentum in Huntsville, Birmingham and across the state, Blanton believes her idea will fill a hole in the local food scene.

Go got on board with Foodie Radar earlier this summer after Blanton asked for help developing the new app on Twitter. She received nearly 30 proposals and price quotes from app companies and freelancers across the globe, but she chose to work with Go because of his work experience and connection to Huntsville.

Blanton, who graduates in December with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UAH, is a multimedia development intern at Teledyne Brown Engineering and designer for Modern Smart in south Huntsville. She is being mentored by KiDebit app developers Jacob Birmingham and Radhaji Mani.

Birmingham, an information systems expert in Huntsville, launched KiDebit, a child-friendly app that educates kids on how to budget and learn the value of money, in June. He met Blanton a few weeks ago during one of his weekly mobile tech talks in downtown Huntsville.

“I think (Foodie Radar) is a great idea because it addresses a local need,” he said. “The feedback coming out of our mobile tech interest group has all been very positive.”

The app will feature local food trucks, but also include mobile vendors like Piper Leaf and farmers markets. The app will be free for customers, but businesses will have to pay an annual licensing fee to be included.

Blanton, who has received requests about developing Foodie Radar in Raleigh, N.C., Seattle and Denver, is confident the app will do well in Huntsville and beyond as more entrepreneurs trade brick-and-mortar stores for mobile eateries.

“If there’s a problem, we need a solution, so why not be a part of that solution?” she said.

Interested vendors should visit Foodie Radar’s website for details on participating in the new app. Updates about the app are posted to Twitter and Instagram.

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Aug 29, 2014
Kim Rivers

UB unveils “Big Blue,” new food truck for students, community

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The University at Buffalo is catching the food truck craze with their own creation: “Big Blue.”

The food truck from the university’s Campus Dining and Shops will travel between the North and South campuses serving up gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, varieties of macaroni and cheese, and teppanyaki. It will also be spotted at special events, athletic games, and is available for catering at on- and off-campus sites.

Big Blue makes its debut during the UB football home owner on Saturday, August 30. The menu will change every few weeks, but student and staff favorites will stick around.

Some of the grilled cheese sandwiches include The Pink Goat, which features herbed goat cheese on marble rye with pickled beets and arugula; the Peanut Butter with Sideburns, a peanut butter sandwich with bacon, bananas and a hint of cream cheese; and the Plain Jane, a classic American cheese on sour dough bread.

Macaroni and cheese specials include a spicy option with jalapenos and beef on weck mac. While teppanyaki, a style of grilled Japanese cuisine, includes ramen noodles with beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetarian options.

All items on the menu are between $4 and $8, and customers can with UB Dining Dollars, Campus Cash, cash and credit.

You can follow Big Blue on Twitter @UBBigBlue.

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Aug 29, 2014
Kim Rivers

Philadelphia Food Trucks Converge On Franklin Square For ‘Food Truck Festivus’

By Justin Udo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was a “Food Truck Festivus” at Franklin Square Thursday.

A half dozen food trucks lined the sidewalks of Franklin Square serving everything from meatballs to ice cream.

“I have cheese curds with sriracha, mayo and a fresh made lemonade,” one person said.

“I got the pulled pork tacos from Oink and Moo BBQ,” another person said.

“I love food trucks, I love trying new food and this gives you the perfect opportunity to try a ton of food,” said another.

People came for the food, but many stayed for the pop-up beer garden and the free games.

“We have special games, volleyball, horseshoes croquet, bocce, just makes for a fun evening.”

If you missed this event at the Square, there’s no need to panic — they’ll be hosting a Labor Day celebration over the weekend.

For more information, visit: http://historicphiladelphia.org/franklin-square/special-events/.

 

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Aug 28, 2014
Jim Benson

Eat Beat: 6 Great Summer Food Cart Sandwiches


Before you throw a fried egg-laden, double-grilled-cheese hamburger at my head, let me be clear: food carts are a godsend.

1. They allow potentially talented chef-entrepreneurs to share their wares with the world. Often, cart food is leagues beyond what you’ll find in a restaurant in terms of creativity and economy.

2. They are a major driver of Portland’s tourist industry. Where would Portland be without Burrasca’s Florentine grandma food, or People’s Pig’s wood-fired wild boar sandwiches?

But the low-cost, low-risk food cart blessing is also a curse. Sure, it’s still a democracy, but unlike restaurants, which require significant capital and foresight, food carts aren’t forced through the same natural selection, survival of the fittest rigmarole that keeps the brick and mortar population down.

And it’s getting worse. In our opinion, if there are 500 Portland food carts rotating in and out at any given time, maybe 10% of them are crave-worthy, thought provoking, or unique to the market. Because of the growing number, and because of their proven success (Step 1: purchase airstream trailer, Step 2: profit), the discrepancy in that ratio is getting wider. And, of course, many of the stalwarts—Lardo, Sok Sab Bai, Fifty-Licks—have abandoned their carts for greener pastures.

We are left wading through a sea of edible garbage, hunting down those rare moments of exceptional, affordable eating. Do we really need another kindergarten-level, bacon-themed cart? A greasy bahn-mi-noodle house? What about another Japanese-Chinese-Korean-Mexican taco truck?

Whose job is it to keep the carts in line? The pod owners? The general public? Should we sanction some sort of food cart oversight committee? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Aug 28, 2014
Kim Rivers

Worcester Public Schools’ nutritional focus transitions from summer food truck … – The Republican

WORCESTER — As Maribel Damik and Doreen McElroy handed a yogurt parfait to a young boy and a sunbutter sandwich to his brother, they knew that they had helped to prepare the children for their return to school. 

Throughout the summer months, Damik and McElroy have traveled to city parks, schools and public library branches to distribute nutritious meals to children. In its second year, the public school district’s summer food distribution program is part of an overall initiative to help maintain good nutrition for growing students, some of whom rely upon the meals normally offered during the traditional school year.

“I think it’s the best thing ever,” McElroy said recently. “It’s the last meal of the day for some people and we’re able to provide them with nutritious food that follows the same guidelines we use in school.”

In Worcester, where 74 percent of public school children are eligible for free or reduced priced meals, there were 42 distribution sites (31 of them open and 11 requiring pre-registration), including the city’s main library in Salem Square and at branches. The food truck stopped at more than a dozen of those sites Monday through Saturday.

In 2013, the program, locally administered by the public school system and Friendly House, served only 12 percent of eligible Worcester children. On Tuesday, Worcester schools Director of Nutrition Donna Lombardi said that the program tripled the number of meals distributed. She attributed the increase to greater familiarization with the program, extended hours and the new partnership with the city library system and other organizations, such as the Worcester County Food Bank and Stop Shop’s Our Family Foundation, that helped bring the truck and the food into remote neighborhoods. 

“The school department and the city really are concerned about the well being of the students and it really it does take a village. Our goal is to ensure that these students are well nourished and ready to learn,” she said. 

The district tried to schedule the truck to complement the school lunch program, so that when school ended there was still a constant source of food for students. With summer vacation over, Lombardi and her staff are making the transition back to the in-school nutrition program, which includes breakfast at most schools, lunch and an after-school snack. 

“Recent studies are showing that if there is an interruption in food environment during a student’s growth period it has potential to hurt the learning experience,” Lombardi said.

The program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with support from the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread, is one of many that operated throughout the Commonwealth during the summer.

In Worcester, Damik and McElroy found themselves almost reaching local celebrity status as people became familiar with the truck and students started to recognize them from school. Damik works in the kitchen at the Norrback Avenue School and McElroy at the Nelson Place School. 

The women said it feels good when they pull into a site and people are waving at them. Residents have come to recognize the truck and the students from Norrback and Nelson Place enjoy getting to see their lunch ladies. 

“It’s been a fun experience, and now I get to see them again on the first day of school,” Damik said. 

Lombardi already has plans for next summer: a second food truck will be on the road and the menu will be expanded.

“We’re fortunate to be able to have this vehicle to serve locally grown fruits and veggies throughout the summer and that they want it. We have the philosophy that if the food tastes good, and that’s where the locally grown and sourced products come in because often do taste better, the kids will want to eat it,” Lombardi said.

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Aug 28, 2014
Kim Rivers

Mid-Week Menu: Taiwan Bento’s ‘Hard’ Opening, Emeryville’s Newest Food …

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    Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

    1) Taiwan Bento’s (412 22nd St., Oakland) self-proclaimed soft opening period ends this Friday, August 29, but co-owner Willy Wang tells me that the Taiwanese lunch spot will keep things fairly low-key even as they head into their “hard” launch. The Uptown restaurant’s streamlined opening menu features four “bentos” (lunch boxes), beef noodle soup, and a few side dishes, and Wang said they’ll likely continue to serve only lunch (Monday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at least through the first couple of weeks of September. New menu items and expanded hours will be rolled out slowly. Next on the agenda (but probably still about a month away): boba drinks. Read more about Taiwan Bento here.

    2) Eater reports that Off the Grid’s recently launched Emeryville outpost will take place on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the parking lot of the Emeryville Public Market (5959 Shellmound St.) — bringing what one local food writer has called today’s four-wheeled “food court” to a shopping center that, of course, already has a food court. At least one restaurateur in the plaza, Hot Italian’s Fabrizio Cercatore, told Berkeleyside Nosh that he didn’t expect his restaurant to suffer from the competition: “Anything that will bring a buzz to the Public Market is good for everyone.”

    3) Scarlet City Espresso Bar (3960 Adeline St.), the first brick-and-mortar coffee shop for the Oakland-based roaster, is now open in Emeryville, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. The E’ville Eye has a nice profile of the business, which buys all of its coffee beans from women-owned farms in South America.

    4) A quick update: Bay Grape (376 Grand Ave., Oakland), a new wine shop previewed on What the Fork a couple of weeks ago — rumored to be opening very soon — is now officially open.

    5) Also new in Oakland: A still-unnamed chocolate shop and cafe focusing on American-made chocolate bars will open in the Rockridge space currently occupied by Bittersweet Cafe (5427 College Ave.), Inside Scoop reports. David Salowich, the owner, currently heads up Bittersweet’s chocolate and retail program. Look for Salowich’s solo venture to open sometime in October.

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      6) Uptown Oakland’s Hopscotch is hosting a pop-up Pig Pickin’ party this Thursday, August 28, from 6 to 10 p.m. (or until they sell out). Chef Kyle Itani will be roasting a whole pig in a La Caja China; a $20 ticket will buy you a plate of pork, salad, cornbread, and a pint of Fort Point Beer Co.’s Manzanita Altbier. Additional side dishes, beer, and shots of whiskey will be available a la carte for $5 a pop. The event will be held at Hopscotch’s annex space, a couple of doors down from the main restaurant, at 1911 San Pablo Avenue.

      7) Local chef and food educator Samin Nosrat is giving a talk tonight, August 27, from 6-8 p.m., at the Temescal Mexican restaurant Doña Tomas (5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). The event is sponsored by Alice Waters’ Social Eats program, which seeks to educate “Bay Area young professionals” about the food system. Tickets are $15, and some small bites will be included.

      8) Last week I gave a quick plug for the “Taste” event that’s coming up on Saturday, September 13, in which several of the East Bay’s high-profile female chefs will be cooking to raise money for the nonprofit Girls Inc. Pican chef Sophina Uong reached out to say that she’s currently looking for about ten volunteers (preferably with some culinary experience) to help plate food for the event. If you want to help out, shoot Uong a line at sophina.uong@picanrestaurant.com.

      9) The big news out of Copenhagen at this week’s MAD Conference, an annual symposium for the food world’s most influential chefs and thinkers, is that Roy Choi (the Los Angeles food truck and restaurant mogul) and the Bay Area’s own Daniel Patterson are embarking on a somewhat surprising collaboration: The two will work together to create a healthy fast food chain called Loco’l, which they hope will be able to compete with the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King in the food deserts of California and beyond. The Chronicle reports that the first location is planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

      10) Finally, ICYMI, Anula’s Cafe has been forbidden from cooking meat, and East Oakland’s most famous hot dog and grilled links cart serves an Oakland original: a fully-loaded pastrami link.

      Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I’ll read ‘em all.

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      Aug 28, 2014
      Kim Rivers

      I Love Bacon’s Josh Patrick: 3 items Huntsville food truck co-owner always … – Press-Register

      HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - There’s the Public Enemy Mac Cheese and The BLT of Curtis Loew. And some of Huntsville food truck I Love Bacon’s menu items even have literally the same exact appellation as the well-known musicians they’re named for, like Tito Jackson (pork belly tacos), Willie Nelson (a tricked-out barbecue sandwich) and Notorious B.I.G (a bacon and mac cheese sandwich).

      The reason? I Love Bacon’s co-owners Josh Patrick and Keith Hill are also electronic dance music DJs, spinning tunes at places like Sammy T’s. “That’s how we met each other 16 years ago,” Patrick, 36, says. “When we get done here on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays we go straight to the club, so we wanted everything to have a music connotation because that’s been a big part of our lives.”

      I Love Bacon began rolling in mid-April. Patrick and Hill decided on a bacon-themed because it was different than other food truck concepts in this market, it’s Hill’s favorite ingredient and, as Patrick says, “the smell of bacon cooking is something everyone remembers from childhood.”

      They went through about a dozen types of bacon before finding the one they wanted to use on their truck. “It’s applewood smoked bacon from a small farm in Tennessee,” Patrick says. “We cook it too a mid-rare. If someone wants it crispier we’ll take it crispier but we don’t want it to ever be overcooked because you taste more of the bacon, the fat, the smoke, at a mid-rare. It’s an expensive ingredient so that’s why our prices are a little higher.”

      Check I Love Bacon’s Twitter and Facebook pages for updates on locations, days and times of operation. On a recent August evening, they’re parked outside Yellowhammer Brewing on Clinton Avenue. It’s 103 degrees inside the truck right now.

      By day, the Huntsville-based Hill works in IT and Patrick lives in Birmingham where he cooks at fine-dining spot Satterfield’s Restaurant and commutes to the Rocket City a couple times a week. Asked to name three things he typically keeps in his home refrigerator, Patrick says:

      “I make all kinds of mustards. There’s nothing else that tastes like a good mustard, especially if you make it yourself and soak the mustard seeds and puree them. I ike to take roasted garlic and jalapenos and standard yellow mustard and a little bit of Dijon and it makes this awesome jalapenos mustard. I like it on anything … any type of sandwich, eggs, omelets.

      “The other thing is olives, mainly Kalamata olives but depending on what I’m cooking that week I might pick up some queen olives or maybe some Nicoise, but always olives. I’ll buy a can of smoked salmon and make a lot of Mediterranean salmon salads and stuff like that and that’s what I eat a lot of. So I’ll chop those olives up and put them in there. They’re briny, they’re salty, and so I don’t have to add any extra salt.

      “Hoisin sauce. Man, that is the greatest sauce to come out of Asia since sriracha sauce. It’s a plum sauce. I eat a lot of roasted vegetables, so I’ll roast off a lot of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and then I’ll mix together sriracha and hoisin and make like a super spicy plum-based barbecue sauce, and I’ll dip it in those.” 

      Read our dining review of I Love Bacon here.

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      Aug 28, 2014
      Kim Rivers

      Wichita’s latest food truck serves cupcakes

      When she was a young girl, Anna Hastings’ father had a brain tumor that changed his whole personality.

      But Hastings learned that if he had dessert, he always seemed happier.

      “I was 10 when I started baking, and I did it so that when my dad got home, he’d be happy,” she said. “Then, I honed the skill.”

      Hastings’ father, a farmer in Iowa, survived the tumor. And Hastings is still baking.

      On Sunday, she’ll debut her new cupcake food truck called Brown Box Bakery at the monthly Food Trucks at the Fountain event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the fountain at the WaterWalk, 515 S. Main.

      Hastings and her husband, Caleb, who moved to Wichita two years ago so he could take a job as a pastor, bough an old FedEx van, which they have converted into a food truck. Hastings will start off at events, including Zoobilee at the Sedgwick County Zoo on Sept. 6 the Red Barn Outdoor Market on Sept. 27.

      Her goal after that is to start hitting the street, food truck style, parking at various places around town to serve her baked goods. Because she’s the only food truck in town that serves exclusively dessert, she said, she may partner up with other trucks. She also takes orders for baked goods.

      Hastings specializes in filled cupcakes, and on Sunday, she’ll be serving cream cheese stuffed red velvet cupcakes, raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes and chocolate-filled vanilla cupcakes. They’re $3 apiece or four for $10 and six for $15.

      To keep up with the trucks whereabouts or to order cupcakes, visit the Brown Box Bakery Facebook page.

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      Aug 28, 2014
      Kim Rivers

      New food truck hits Salisbury streets

      A new food truck is bringing beach food inland to Salisbury.

      Mack Malone, one of CI Fries’ owners, said the goal is to take the truck to Chincoteague Island for summer events and set up shop in Salisbury for the remaining part of the year, about 10 months.

      He said CI Fries started serving food in Salisbury last week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the CI Fries truck sets up right off Route 13 near the intersection with Gordy Road from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. That’s near Hertz, Brainwave Computer Services and car dealerships.

      Hours are also 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there isn’t a set location, Malone said. People can keep up with the location of the truck at the CI Fries Facebook page.

      Malone, born and raised in Salisbury, built the CI Fries truck. His wife, Grace Malone, worked at Giant’s deli, liked the food industry and was interested in getting a truck, he said.

      As the founder of Lucky’s Garage in Delmar, Mack Malone is almost done with building another food truck for someone else and has been in talks with other businesses about building food trucks.

      In his travels, he saw food trucks seemed to be popular across the country.

      “It seemed like that was the up-and-coming trend,” Mack Malone said.

      CI Fries offers fresh-cut french fries and fresh lemonade year-round, Mack Malone said. The “CI” stands for “Chincoteague Island.”

      “We just want to sell summer food all year long,” Mack Malone said.

      Other than the french fries and lemonade, the menu changes daily, said Chef Daniel Mears.

      Menu items are advertised on the Facebook page. They range from burgers and hot dogs to wraps, salads and fish and chips. Mack Malone said Mears has also made desserts such as deep-fried Oreos.

      In addition to walking up to the truck and ordering, people can also call in or text their orders to 410-713-1331.

      Mears, a local to the area, previously worked for the Carolina Panthers and at restaurants in Miami Beach, Florida, before running restaurants in Ocean City. He also has a catering company, Harmony of Taste.

      Mears said he can cater from the CI Fries truck for private events.

      The truck can also go to different venues on the weekend. Recently, locations have included a Salisbury Roller Girls bout and a Chevy Truck Show held in memory of Charles “CJ” Abbott, the Facebook page shows.

      Mears said CI Fries plans to set up this Friday night-early Saturday morning behind Pat’s Pizza in south Salisbury from about midnight to 3 a.m., and has future plans to have Friday night family bonfires.

      vjunkin@dmg.gannett.com

      410-845-4639

      On Twitter @VanessaJunkin

      WHERE IS CI FRIES?

      Keep up with CI Fries’ location and menu on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tastethebeach

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      Aug 28, 2014
      Tim Lester

      The Future Of Food Carts: An Interview With The Street Vendors Justice Coalition


      Food cart in NYC, where they are legal (Deborah Bifulco/Creative Commons)

      Chicago food carts are frozen in time. According to the existing Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance, pushcart vendors can legally sell nothing apart from frozen, prepackaged desserts. But the Street Vendors Justice Coalition, formed in 2012 in Little Village, is calling for a thaw.

      Food carts arguably constitute guerrilla warfare against the city’s sprawling food deserts. And in the wake of the new e.a.t. spots’ sale of fresh food from obsolete newsstands, the momentum is building for vendors selling via bike or foot to expand their ambit. The e.a.t. spots operate under the new emerging business license, but street vendors have yet to receive the same sanction. Vendors in Ald. Roberto Maldonado’s 26th Ward reportedly are repeatedly subject to police intervention while peddling products like tamales, elotes and fresh fruit cups. As a consequence, Maldonado submitted a revised ordinance last May to the City Council legalizing all such sales. But only with summer’s end and e.a.t spots’ launch may pushcarts receive their hearing.

      We spoke with Beth Kregor, director of the University of Chicago’s Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship and an advocate on behalf of the SVJC, regarding the proposed ordinance and mobile food vendors’ future.

      Chicagoist: What changes is the SVJC proposing to the current Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance?

      BK: Currently, sidewalk vendors with carts are only allowed to sell packaged frozen desserts. The new law would allow vendors to sell any food that was prepared in a licensed kitchen and wrapped up, as long as it is kept at the correct temperature on the cart. They could sell fruit cups and tamales, bagels or dumplings, and anything else a chef may conceive. The new law would also give produce stands more freedom to sell ready-to-eat produce and to set up in more neighborhoods.

      Chicagoist: How can food carts help address the city’s food deserts?

      BK: Food carts are the most affordable way to start a business selling food. Entrepreneurs can sell freshly prepared food affordably in their own neighborhoods. Or they can test out different locations on different days, unlike a grocery store, which has to make a huge investment in a fixed location. If the new law passes, produce stands will have more flexibility to set up shop in various food desert neighborhoods throughout the week, and they will be able to sell ready-to-eat produce. Currently, only 30 sidewalk permits are available for produce stands across the city, and they may legally sell only whole, uncooked produce, like a mango or a cucumber or a pineapple. People in Chicago are literally hungering for affordable, fresh, ready-to-eat food.

      Chicagoist: Would food carts actually compete with e.a.t. spots, which are set to expand across the city? And how might e.a.t. spots help your proposal gain traction?

      BK: We would love to see e.a.t. spots all over the city along with other vendors. More competition means more and better options for Chicagoans. Vendors are already selling fresh and healthy foods, like fruit salads. If the city gives the vendors permission to cut fruits and vegetables to order on carts, we will be sure to have more of the colorful, juicy, fresh fruit that gives people in neighborhoods like Little Village a refreshing treat on the go. I have also spoken with entrepreneurs who have ideas for mobile salad bars or fresh bakery carts. Who knows how many people aren’t piecing these dreams together because the law prohibits them? If customers love the e.a.t. spots, as I suspect they will, they may inspire other vendors—traditional vendors or new entrepreneurs—to serve even more healthy food on the sidewalks as well.

      I also hope the e.a.t. spots do help build momentum for legalizing street food more broadly. They showcase some of the many wonderful aspects of legal street food: They are creating jobs for people who need them, they are serving fresh, affordable food to people on the go, and they are contributing to a vibrant, urban environment. They also demonstrate that sidewalk vendors can sell food safely, in line with the health code. There is nothing to fear and so much to favor about vendors like the e.a.t. spots. The benefits could be multiplied many times if we allowed Chicagoans to design menus and carts that are just right for their own neighborhoods.

      Chicagoist: What in your opinion explains the delay of the Council’s vote on the proposal, and what feedback have you received from the Mayor’s Office?

      BK: Some aldermen may be hesitant to take a stand on vending before elections, trying to avoid a public debate, but we hope to convince aldermen that the voters want this to happen. We also hit the summer break for City Council in August. We have heard that the Mayor’s Office is enthused about proposals like this one that make it easier for people to start small food businesses in their own neighborhoods, especially when they will be able to sell fresh, healthy foods in areas with few grocery stores.

      Chicagoist: How would Alderman Maldonado’s proposal affect street vendors’ livelihood?

      BK: Currently, vendors operate at great risk. At any moment, a police officer or inspector could tell them to stop, throw away their food, fine them hundreds of dollars or arrest them. Vendors have told us that they hide in their homes during some times of the day, because they know a police officer who tickets vendors heavily will be outside. The new law would let these entrepreneurs operate stable businesses without fear so that they could build a future for their families.

      Chicagoist: What types of foods are most vendors likely to sell under the proposed new ordinance?

      BK: We can’t predict the mix of foods that will be sold, because that’s up to the innovation and creativity of Chicagoans. We have heard, however, from aspiring vendors who want to sell bagels, fresh breads, cookies, iced coffee and salads. We hope that the new ordinance will let traditional Latino vendors operate their businesses without fear so that they can sell tamales, sliced mangoes sprinkled with chili and lime and elotes to their neighbors and visitors. Neighbor Capital stands, which sell only whole produce now, could sell roasted nuts, sliced fruits and veggie snacks so that Chicagoans could get snacks as well as groceries from produce stands.

      Chicagoist: How would the new ordinance affect vendors’ bottom lines?

      BK: Compliance with the new ordinance would come with costs as well as benefits. Current vendors may need to invest in different carts if their current carts would not pass inspection. If they wish to make their own food, they may have to pay rent in a shared kitchen. The Street Vendors Justice Coalition is also hard at work trying to identify potential community kitchens. But we believe that the costs would be offset by the freedom to sell at any time in the location of the vendor’s choice and the savings when vendors no longer lose money on city citations. Of course, we also expect brand-new businesses to emerge to create new revenue streams. People with small budgets will finally be able to start legal micro-businesses selling food.

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