Food-cart ordinance creates new opportunities for restaurants and entrepreneurs

Food-cart ordinance creates new opportunities for restaurants and entrepreneurs

Now that Chicago has lifted its ban on food carts, Chicago’s food entrepreneurs can openly provide food to consumers – and established restaurateurs gain an opportunity to sell their products in new markets.

Chicago’s brick-and-mortar restaurants have no reason to fear food-cart legalization. In fact, this business model could be a boon for many restaurateurs in the Windy City.

Chicago City Council voted Sept. 24 to lift the city’s ban on food carts. This is a historic reform, which could create an exciting food culture in Chicago for both established restaurants and new food entrepreneurs.

The burden of the city’s ban fell largely on entrepreneurs like Claudia Perez, who was forced to operate her food cart in the shadow economy. Now that the ban has been lifted, Claudia will be able to operate freely and openly.


Food carts are the most affordable entry point for would-be chefs and restaurateurs to gain a foothold in the industry – a relatively small investment means the chance to sell delicious food, such as tamales, hot dogs and more, to customers at different locations all over the city.

City Council’s vote on Sept. 24 to legalize food carts opens a new chapter in Chicago’s culinary history, creating the opportunity for more entrepreneurs to enter the market, and for existing restaurants to expand their reach. Now, anyone with a great food idea can start a business with a food cart. And restaurants that are currently confined to their brick-and-mortar locations will be able to introduce food carts into new neighborhoods. Chicago’s revised food-cart ordinance puts the city’s best food on wheels, allowing entrepreneurs and established restaurateurs alike to satisfy customer demand. Imagine how demand could soar for popular dining spots such as Portillo’s or Lou Malnati’s if they set up shop in the Loop at lunchtime.

Although some say food carts threaten brick-and-mortar restaurants, food-cart legalization provides opportunities for established restaurants to expand their businesses. Chicagoans will be eager to find their favorite foods in more places, and restaurateurs should welcome the chance for new sales. Restaurants have a natural advantage, too: The revised ordinance that passed on Sept. 24 requires food-cart vendors to prepare their foods in licensed kitchens, which restaurants already have. Thus, restaurateurs will have the easiest time extending their brands into new places. As Chicago’s on-demand economy grows, from ridesharing to food trucks to homesharing, it only makes sense for restaurants to join in.

Restaurants should support the food-cart concept. It will allow them to broaden their reach by setting up hubs. This ordinance isn’t just a boon for street-vendor entrepreneurs in Little Village – it’s a growth opportunity for anyone with a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

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