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🚚 Why aren’t we a city of food trucks?

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

🚚 Food Trucks Return

Chicago is a city of food — from iconic staples like hot dogs and Italian beef sammies to snacks created here like pizza puffs and brownies

But we aren’t exactly a city of food trucks. Ahead of the return of the Chicago Food Truck Festival in the Loop Friday, we’re looking at why.

Harold’s truck on Clark between Monroe and Adams streets October 2016. (Interim Archives / Getty)

As food trucks took off on the coasts in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Chicago chefs and restaurateurs were slow to join the craze because of a law that said trucks could only sell prepackaged food items.

A 2012 ordinance did allow trucks to prepare food on board but introduced new restrictions: Vendors couldn’t park within 200 feet of any business that sold food or stay in the same spot for more than two hours, the Reader reported. 

That’s due in part to the lobbying efforts of the Illinois Restaurant Association, which was committed to protecting brick-and-mortar restaurants.

All these logistical challenges made Chicago one of the most difficult places in the country to operate a food truck, according to a 2018 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report. 

The pandemic hit food trucks especially hard, with the loss of downtown lunch crowds and catering events, Crain’s reported. 

The downturn affects a lot of owners of color, who made up nearly 80% of all Chicago food truck owners in 2018. Owners are especially vulnerable because “oftentimes it’s someone’s life savings,” said Gabriel Wiesen, Beavers Coffee + Donuts food truck owner and Illinois Food Truck Association chair.

Want to support food trucks? 
👉 Find a truck near you. 
👉 Head to Daley Plaza this Friday and order from A Sweets Girl, Sausage Fest, Harold’s 55, Aztec Dave’s, Mr. Quiles Mexican Food, 5411 Empanadas, or Cynthia’s Gumbo. Food trucks will be in the Loop Fridays through October.

Have a food truck rec? Share with us on this quick little form! And then we’ll share back with you all. #SharingIsCaring 🤜 🤛

🐬 Whitney Young’s Principal on CPS, Legacy

After nearly 30 years, Joyce Kenner is retiring as principal of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in West Loop. 

The selective enrollment school is routinely ranked among the top in the country, and alumni — including famous ones like Michelle Obama and not-famous ones like your fav newsletter writer — will remind you of that.

🎧 As the academic year closes, Kenner walks us through the school while discussing the culture she sought to build and selective enrollment schools’ role in a district marked by inequities.

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📰 Newsfeed

New citywide curfew for minors. Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted a 10 p.m. curfew for Chicagoans under 18 who are without an adult. The change comes in response to the fatal shooting of Seandell Holliday, a 16-year-old who wanted to live to 21. He was shot and killed near the Bean Saturday. [WTTW; CBS Chicago]

Chicago COVID testing lab scammed Nevada cities, schools. Nevada health officials found Northshore Clinical Labs PCR tests missed 96% of positive cases from a university campus. But the state failed to alert the public, and the company used political connections to do business there, an investigation found. [ProPublica, Block Club, Nevada Independent]

The ward remapping saga ends. City Council voted 43-7 on a ward map, ending months of back-and-forth and foregoing a referendum. [WBEZ]

Joe Freshgoods x New Balance collection drops today. The Chicago designer is out with his “Inside Voices” apparel collection today. The new collab contrasts his “Outside Clothes” line last fall. [Hypebae]

📝 Grading Lightfoot on Public Safety

After looking at how Lightfoot’s campaign promises on public safety have played out, we asked readers to grade the first-term mayor. 

And it’s not…good: Nearly 90% of voters gave Lightfoot a below-average grade.

🏆  Trivia Winners Are…

We asked readers Monday which local McDonald’s location was once a safe house on the Underground Railroad. 

The answer? The Lake Street McDonald’s in the western suburb of Maywood was once the Ten Mile Freedom House, a resting place along the Des Plaines River, according to Atlas Obscura

📣 Shoutout to readers Kyle D. and Natasha L. for guessing correctly and especially to Jay C., who won the swag!

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