Wauconda might ease restrictions on food trucks

  • Customers waited in a long line at the Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery during a recent Food Truck Friday event in Lincolnshire. Wauconda officials are considering amending local rules that currently ban food and ice cream trucks.

    Customers waited in a long line at the Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery during a recent Food Truck Friday event in Lincolnshire. Wauconda officials are considering amending local rules that currently ban food and ice cream trucks. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/28/2017 6:07 PM

With the popularity of gourmet food trucks on the rise, Wauconda officials are considering easing local restrictions on mobile edibles.

An online petition to allow ice cream trucks in town and the national excitement over food trucks have prompted the village board's license and administration committee to review Wauconda's rules for motorized food vendors.

 

"We thought it was a good opportunity to take a look at (our) system and determine if change was necessary or desired," said Trustee Tim Howe, who leads the committee.

Mobile food, beverage and ice cream vendors are specifically forbidden from serving customers on public streets and sidewalks under rules that go back at least to 1978. However, a food truck rally at a park or on private property "would probably pass muster" under the current rules, Howe said.

The rules also prohibit mobile food or snack vendors from using horns, bells or sound systems on streets or in other public places. That affects ice cream trucks more than gourmet food vendors.

Following a committee discussion Tuesday, Howe said officials probably would ban food trucks on Main Street because of the abundance of restaurants there.

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Likewise, officials would want to keep food trucks away from any other spot where they'd compete with brick-and-mortar eateries, he said.

As for ice cream trucks, committee members will speak with homeowner association representatives and residents to see if a demand exists for such vendors -- or if there's any opposition.

"We have heard that they occasionally make runs through parts of Liberty Lakes, but I'm not aware of any reports (or) complaints being made," Howe said.

Howe also wants to review the Lake County Health Department's food safety regulations and inspection requirements for mobile food vendors.

Jason Laureys is among the Wauconda residents who'd like ice cream trucks legalized in town.

"When I was a kid, I remember the excitement in the neighborhood once we heard the ice cream truck coming," he said. "I've seen my kids filled with that same excitement when the occasional truck comes through."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wauconda restaurateur Aaron Aggarwal is concerned food trucks could take a bite out of his business and that of the other eateries in town.

"If they planted themselves in the industrial parks we would lose a considerable amount of lunch business," said Aggarwal, who co-owns the Green Goat, Bulldogs Grill and Middleton's on Main.

Letting food trucks serve patrons at outdoor festivals would hurt local restaurants, too, he said.

"Local businesses look forward to these events," Aggarwal said. "This is our opportunity to make a little extra money."

The license committee will discuss the issue again before recommending any changes to the village board.

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