Why more food trucks could be coming to Barrington

Barrington officials are considering tweaking local law to attract more food trucks to the village.

“We're taking it under advisement, as we say,” Village President Karen Darch said as an informal food truck discussion concluded this week.

Current village code allows ice cream vendors but places limitations on food trucks. To operate in Barrington, a licensed truck must be associated with a special event as defined by the village or be from a permanent food establishment in town.

Darch said it's natural for towns to want to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants by restricting food trucks.

“You almost have that head-to-head competition if you put that food truck in,” she said.

As researched by Melanie Marcordes, assistant to the village manager, one option would be to only allow food trucks adjacent certain taverns. The licensed trucks would be allowed to use village right of way outside the taverns that receive more than half their retail revenue from alcohol sales.

Flesk Brewing Co.'s taproom in the Ice House Mall already has a mobile food vendor license for an adjacent village-owned parking lot so it can offer a truck five times a year. Food trucks are part of the Flesk Fest outdoor beer garden on the second Thursday of the month, which began in May.

Trustee Todd Sholeen said a business such as Flesk could benefit if food trucks were regularly allowed.

“I kind of wonder how many people go into Flesk brewery and say, ‘Oh, I'm going to order a pizza from Pizza Factory or I'm going to get this from Shakou and I'm going to have it brought over here,' where they might have more activity if they had a food truck,” Sholeen said.

Another option would be to amend the law to permit food trucks in private parking lots, such as an office complex, with permission from a property owner.

In May, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion finding Chicago's food truck regulations constitutional and allowing the city to shield brick-and-mortar restaurants from mobile vendor competition. The case arose during the Barrington food truck discussion.

Marcordes said village hall has received inquiries from businesses wanting food truck visits.

“And to be honest, sometimes I think they're doing it without even asking,” Marcordes said. “So, I think a lot of that's happening as well.”

Lincolnshire is among the suburbs that embrace food trucks with regularity in the summer. The village hosts Food Truck Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other week in the Lincolnshire Corporate Center parking lot, attracting the likes of Toasty Cheese, Grill Chasers, Mario's Cart, Rogue Curbside Kitchen and others.

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