As a devoted food truck freak, and advocate of consumer rights and small businesses, I decided to testify at city hall and tell our legislators how food trucks have enriched my life and how I think the city is infringing upon consumer rights with their proposed ordinance. Here is a transcript of what I said (note: there may be minor differences in what I actually said, but I think this is 99% accurate).
My name is Alex Levine and I am the founder of a Chicago food truck tracker and blog foodtruckfreak.com. A little over a year ago, I was working at an ad agency in the meat packing district here in Chicago. There was 1 place to get lunch within a few blocks. A coworker of mine introduced me to the small fleet of food trucks that were rolling at that time. Because the industry was so new here, it was hard to find where they would be. So, I created a website and blog last July that let everyone know where trucks would be and what they serve, and now consumers have several ways to easily track their favorite trucks. Yesterday was the 1year anniversary of my website.
Since then, my site has been visited over a quarter of a million times. People come to my site in search of new culinary experiences, in search of variety. There was a time not too long ago when there were only a handful of vegetables I would touch and I would eat only foods I had heard of before. Food trucks allowed me to try new foods in a way that was affordable and accessible. That opened me up to a whole new world, and now I’m the first in line when a new restaurant opens.
I recently conducted a survey of 453 Chicagoans who indicated that two of the top reasons they go to food trucks are to try new things and to add variety to their lunch habits. 76% of respondents said like me, they have virtually no lunch options nearby or they hunger for more variety than is available to them come lunch hour. Many of the people I surveyed only dine out a handful of times a week now, but 57.5% of them said they would dine out for lunch more often if food trucks were nearby. This echoes the statistics Matt [Geller] just talked about. [Visitors to my website] have told me on many occasions that they want the variety, and they want right to choose where they spend their money for lunch.
In fact, over 2900 of them signed online and physical petitions to tell you, aldermen, that they want the 200 foot buffer zone removed. Proposed food truck stands don’t solve the problem; they still confine trucks to pockets of the city that only serve a small fraction of people who want them. Please remove the 200 foot ban and let the food trucks come to us who so passionately want variety, and convenient lunch options. Thank you.