Food trucks and carts could get their own Logan Square lot

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Logan Square could get a park for food carts and trucks if a new development comes to fruition. The project would transform a pair of lots near the 2500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue. The carts and trucks would go to a 7,000 square foot parking lot on the 2400 block of North Sacramento Avenue, according to Block Club Chicago.

The lots belong to the city and the plan is still in its infancy. Block Club says the project would make room for Mexican food vendors. He mentions the Mega Mall, demolished in 2016 to make way for the new development which includes a target. The closest to the mall moved a longtime tamale vendor, and the new food cart park would give the vendor new space. Block Club says community leaders and Ald. (32nd venue) Scott Waguespack is pushing for the plan.

Food trucks and carts are often seen as gateways for booming business owners to start their own businesses, as the costs are lower than in a traditional restaurant; there are no rent, utilities or other expenses to worry about. Food halls offer similar benefits, but in the end, chefs still have to respond to venue owners and worry about non-competition clauses, and do tastings to try and prove themselves.

Over the years in Chicago, elected officials, restaurateurs and lobbyists have created an ‘us versus them’ narrative, writing food trucks as threats to mainstream restaurants, claiming that restaurant owners are losing customers to them. cause of trucks and carts. However, restaurateurs near the proposed food truck park are in favor of the plan. Bixi Beer chef and owner Bo Fowler said she hadn’t heard of the park until a call with Eater Chicago. She reiterates that food trucks are great entry points for chefs without a lot of capital. Bixi is in front of the development.

“I don’t think more businesses is a bad thing in this climate,” she said. “If more people want to enter the market, that’s a good thing.

Doug Psaltis, chef and co-owner of Andros Taverna, said he had heard a little about the plan. He says it has the potential to be a good thing for Chicago. Andros is a neighbor of the proposed park and Psaltis does not consider food trucks and carts as competition. The park could be a way to improve the neighborhood and keep what already makes the neighborhood beautiful, he says.

Still, Logan Square is not a hungry neighborhood for restaurants and the area is known as one of the city’s most vibrant food outlets. Why not create a food truck park in one of the city’s food deserts, encouraging vendors to sell their produce in underserved communities?

There is no answer to that. But the goal of the Logan Square projects appears to be to give the food carts space. Chicago isn’t known for its food carts like other cities (yes, like Portland). But in and around Logan Square, motorists can often see vendors peddling tamales, elotes, paletas, and other items. The city has taken more steps to encourage cart vendors in recent years. Many of these salespeople only speak Spanish without a lot of resources to open their own restaurant. This situation is best illustrated by Claudio Velez – the Tamale Guy – who sold food in bars for 20 years before he could open his own restaurant.

Plus, these vendors often spend Chicago winters in freezing cold trying to sell their food without a lot of outside audiences or customers. A definite place for them, a safe space (perhaps with electrical outlets for outdoor heaters) where customers could find them, could be a game-changer. Although Chicago is a sanctuary city (with many restaurants being part of this effort to protect refugees and immigrants), those responsible for the project will need to work to build trust within the vendor community. Immigrants have their own fears about government that will need to be addressed. Velez is aware of this: he briefly shut down operations last year after the city sent him cease and desist letters, not wanting to attract the attention of immigration officials.


And in other news …

– Speaking of Bo Fowler, many fans of his first restaurant, Owen & Engine, are wondering if the British farm-to-table gastro pub will reopen. The restaurant hasn’t been open since 2020. Fowler says she has been inundated with texts and inquiries. It’s hard to find workers for just one restaurant, she says; two is much more difficult. But there is light at the end of the tunnel: she has started to gather her staff to reopen O&E. Although nothing is immediate, Owen & Engine will reopen. Fowler doesn’t know when.

-Illinois Breweries had a great night out at the Great American Beer Festival on Friday September 10 in Denver, winning a total of 16 medals – including a Gold Medal in the Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale category at Destihl Brewery in the upstate for his foggy IPA bus tour. It was one of the most competitive categories, with 427 entries. Destihl also won a bronze medal in the Juicy or Hazy Imperial India Pale Ale category for his Haze of the Dead. When Destihl co-founder and CEO Matt Potts heard the news, he told the TribuneIt’s Josh Noel, he screamed so loud he alarmed people in the next hotel room. Other local medalists include Goose Island Brewery, Short Fuse Brewing Company, Old Irving Brewing Co., Pollyanna Brewing Co. and Alarmist Brewing.

—Chicago hotel revenue is down 86% in 2021 compared to 2019, Crain’s reports, resulting in a loss of $ 2.2 billion. COVID-19 has caused a dramatic drop in tourists, but also congresses, a major source of activity for Chicago hotels. Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, said Crain’s that he’s confident the industry will recover, but not until at least 2024. The group has asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot to allocate hotels $ 2 billion of the money the city receives from the latest federal COVID relief bill to help them survive.

—Sundays on State, which closed State Street to vehicular traffic on eight Sundays in the summer in favor of food trucks, street performers, art shows, shopping, carnival games, and barber shops. outdoors, etc., has been a successful endeavor, reports the Chicago Loop Alliance. . On average, 67,000 people attended each event, coming from all parts of the city and bringing pedestrian traffic on State Street to its pre-pandemic level. Additionally, participants visited other attractions on the loop, spending a total of $ 12 million.

—The Chicago Bears have announced the four winners of their Small Business All-Pro Gameday Eats initiative: Moody’s Pub in Edgewater, Cocoa Chili in Garfield Park, Peppo’s Subs in Palos Hills and Cleo’s Southern Cuisine in Bronzeville. The Bears will partner with each restaurant for four weeks, promoting on team social media and in official newsletters and on game days at Soldier Field. This is the second year of the program; it is co-sponsored by Visa.


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