Just last week a guy named Joe contacted me on Facebook to tell me about his Kickstarter project- a paleo food cart! I didn't get around to blogging about it until today and in the meantime it was fully funded!
I totally understand why. A food cart fills an important niche in the food landscape. When I worked in a Midtown Office building, they were not only a quick meal option, but there were always new interesting trucks and carts randomly showing up. It was like being a kid and waiting for the ice cream truck. Unfortunately, most didn't exactly serve healthy food, but I hope the paleo project can show it is possible. In NYC you can actually get a pretty good rice and meat bowl with TONS of pickled vegetables at Korilla.
Unfortunately, I now live in a city where the Illinois Restaurant Association has managed to quash the food truck scene. Ever heard of rent-seeking? What a perfect example. The Illinois Restaurant Association is using the government's laws and police force to protect their own businesses from competition. That's not only an abuse of government power, but it's stupid.
They say that food trucks are "unfair" to restaurant owners. Yes, the restaurant owners in NYC are really suffering. That's why NYC has some of the greatest restaurants in the United States and a vibrant eating-out culture? Even the real competition to food trucks, mediocre Midtown delis and fast food lunch places, seem to be doing more than fine in NYC.
I was excited to see that The Institute for Justice has taken up the food truck cause in Chicago. On Saturday they are having a free symposium and meetup that I'm going to. I might have to use my Official Guide to Eating Badly, especially since the law here prohibits cooking on the truck, which means food can't be made to order. They are also trying to make it so that food trucks can't sell food near restaurants, which means they would pretty much be banned everywhere:
Also, a random tagged on rant: I am really tired of meeting ex-New Yorkers in Chicago who say how "behind" we are in food, but who have never even bothered to eat at the city's most innovative restaurants (like El Ideas or Schwa) because they stay in their mediocre Lincoln Park/Gold Coast neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, there are restaurants and food things I miss in NYC, but Chicago has it's own very cool (and very different) food scene.