Though the food truck trend was launched in a blaze of expectations of selling spaceship tamales outside bars at midnight, it quickly became clear that the traffic was overwhelmingly in the Loop and the office-building parts of the Mag Mile area. That’s where you had the sweet spot of high density and competition that everybody was sick to death of, and a sausage wagon or a naanmobile was blessed relief from the routine. As this map demonstrated better than anything, though, the Loop was precisely where the not-within-200-feet-of-a-restaurant rule made food trucks impossible.
Now the city has introduced an ordinance specifying 23 food truck zones— places where they can park and not get a ticket. And if you’re in the Loop, you have… all of five choices of where to go, including one well within Grant Park which would be a fair hike on anybody’s lunch hour. (Redeye has a map here.) The other 18 are scattered around the north side, where density is lower and yet there are any number of restaurants available, most of which don’t do that big a lunch traffic to begin with. Which means that for all the talk of protecting brick and mortar businesses from unfair food truck competition, competition is being directed to those lunch spots outside the Loop, while in the Loop, there will be competition for a very limited number of spaces (we have yet to see anything that says what the capacity of these zones will be; we’re just told it’s “at least two.”)
If part of the idea was to dispel the notion that food truck regulation was mainly for the benefit of a few Loop restaurateurs, this first list of legal spots can be read just as easily as reinforcing it.