Contact Chicago Food Carts
Phone: (312) 380-9334
I was wondering the reasons for Chicago not having food carts on the streets. I grew up in the chicagoland suburbs and recenty moved out to San Francisco. I was stunned by the number of food carts out every day. The summer in Chicago would be PERFECT for food carts and the friendly people of the city would welcome it. So it brings me to the question Why? I was thinking about investing some money and starting a food cart .. I’ve talked to many people out here and they had to pay many fines and had been shut down plenty of times but they just had to ride it out. If you have any more info and I’m sure you do I would love to hear back from you. Thanks for you time. Tony.
Thanks for your comment. The reason that Chicago does not have food carts as we understand it is that they are concerned about health and sanitary factors for the people that walk the streets everyday. The city does have a program for food carts that is run by the Park District but they dictate where you can have your cart(s). Mainly in parks and beaches. Also they only let you buy from approved suppliers i.e. Vienna Beef and Pepsi. So what we are trying to propose is a loosening of the laws that are in place for food vendors. Right now you can sell food that has already been prepared at an inspected kitchen or commissary but can’t prepare food from your cart or truck. So prepackaged goods are okay to distribute and sell but nothing that is freshly cooked or prepared. Check out http://www.sfcartproject.com/. There you can find some great info about carts in San Francisco. Also look into contacting your local government website for permit and licensing information. Hope this helps.
I live in Rogers Park, was in process of opening small Breakfast/Lunch joint but scratched due to economy and recent marriage. I have met and spoken with guy from Gaztro Wagon? Would love to discuss legality of operating food truck. i know he has location on Clark, curious to know how that all works???
Thanks for your comment. The long and short of it all is that you can’t prepare food on a truck and serve it. What you can do is prepare your food at a shared kitchen like Splice Kitchen or commissary then set-out and serve your food at appropriate parking spots.
We along with the folks at chicagofoodtrucks.com are trying to get the food truck/cart ordinance passed in the city so you can actually cook on such said mobile units.
Hope this helps and please let me know of any other questions you want answered and I can do my best to help you answer.
Hi, just came to your site for the very first time. Is there any new information on whether or not food can be cooked on the mobile cart? Also, if you serve pre-packaged food, can it be of any type of food or it has to be pre-approved? I wanted to start something with Indian food but want to find out more information. Thanks.
As of right now you can’t cook food right on a cart. If it is pre-packaged it has to be prepared on an approved commissary or kitchen. Thanks for your comment.
I am very interested in opening a food truck in Chicago. I have some questions that I have been unable to answer. I have found commercial kitchen space. However, where and how do you get food delivered to you? A food purveyor just can’t pull up at your food truck and unload goods. Do you have any idea of how this works? Also, where do you store your food truck at night? Is there some location across the city? I would appreciate any and all input.
Wherever you have your business address is where you could have supplies and food delivered. As far as parking your truck, you can park it where you live or where your business address is. This could be your home or if you have an office it could be parked there.
You say above that you can’t “cook” your food onsite at the cart, but can do so in a licensed kitchen and then only sell it from your cart. But what is the exact definition of “cook” as it pertains to food carts? Does that also mean “prepare”?
For example, let’s say I purchased some Wonder bread, Jif peanut butter, and Smucker’s jelly and make the PB&J’s onsite at my cart and then sold them. Would that be illegal? Thanks for your help.
You actually have to park your food truck at the commissary that has been inspected at by the city. You are not able to take it home with you unfortunately. It must remain there at that site.
I was wondering if the laws about where you can sell based on proximity to restaurants only applies to food sales. Could a truck sell prepackaged beverages anywhere in the city, say the loop or do these laws apply to beverages as well?
This applies to food and beverage.
Thanks for your question.
You would have to prep all of that and package it up for sale at a shared kitchen or commissary then you would be able to sell it from a cart.
Does this same rule applies to street vendors that are in the corners selling corn on the cob, hot chocolate, and pork skins. It seems as if they just put up a table and set up and no one tells them anything. Most of them dont even have licenses to sell. We have candy vendors selling off a kmart cart to kids after school and that’s ok?
The same rules apply to them as well. I don’t know how much the police actually enforce these laws but i have the same feelings as you. The vendors you see just might be okay with paying any fines they incur. I have often thought of just opening one and suffering the fines if they came about. Although in the areas I want to do business I am sure I would get much more attention than the areas we see corn on the cob, hot chocolate and pork skins sold.
I just purchased a steam table, it has a 2 comp. sink, icebox and a hook up for a Propane tank. Do I apply for a licernse first or have it checked by the City of Chicago
Where do you plan on selling your items? In the city of Chicago?
I am interested in starting a mobile kitchen here in Chicago; I called the health department regarding permits and inspection. I was told that my vehicle has to be parked at a licensed commissary and could not give me further any information. I have not been able to find a commissary, any suggestions where I can find a list of approved commissaries in the Chicagoland.
Love the site, it should blow up real soon. You’re one step ahead of the game my friend as food trucks are going to be big in Chicago. I have been wanting to start a mobile food business. I would appreciate any info to my questions. I’m leaning food cart vs truck only because it’s less expensive( or is it?) but where do I begin? I mean even before I purchase the cart how do I get my ducks in order? Suburbs vs. City food licensing and cost, etc? Late night after bars close out vs. lunch time by businesses? The questions are on and on and on. All I know is I have a killer sandwich I could easily sell for $8-10 each with fries/drink. What do I do, where do I begin?
Does anybody have any resources or places for comissarys in Chicago? I have the truck ready to go, just need that :/
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
All we knew of was Kitchen Chicago and Logan Square Kitchen but it seems as if they have closed.
Hi I will be owning a food truck but I need a commissary can you please give me some leads.
Yesterday I posted a story from @EaterChicago on Twitter about the guy behind the Salsa Truck, Dan Salls’, who is opening a food truck commissary, The Garage, real soon. It will be located 116 N. Aberdeen. Check out some more details here – http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/04/26/more-details-on-the-commissary-the-garage-trucks-coming-to-the-park-district.php
I would begin in the suburbs if you can since the city runs a program for food carts already. They have a list of where you can place them and a cost associated with said space, mainly in parks and city managed property. For example, around museums and places like Millennium Park. They also take 10% of your profits and only allow you to buy from suppliers they do business with like Vienna Beef and Pepsi.
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