East Dundee likely to establish food truck zone on trial basis
East Dundee officials are poised to establish a test program allowing existing businesses and nonprofits to sponsor food trucks in the downtown area.
A proposal being considered by the village board would designate five public parking spots as a "Depot Food Truck Zone" from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Created along the east side of The Depot property on River Street, the space could be rented by establishments looking to bring in food trucks to enhance their businesses or draw customers to the downtown.
After reviewing the proposal this week, most trustees expressed support on a trial basis to work out the kinks and determine if the concept is successful. They are expected to vote at an upcoming meeting on whether to implement it through the end of the year.
"(Food trucks) do bring a large turnout, and some of them are very good, so I'm OK with aspects of this," Village President Lael Miller said. "I know there's going to be some opposition. ... If we pilot this thing, then we have an opportunity to find out, are these concerns valid?"
The food truck concept was introduced to trustees last month at the request of Black & Gray Brewing Co., 311 Barrington Ave. Owners say they are interested in offering food options to taproom patrons without operating a full in-house kitchen -- an increasingly popular trend in the Chicago area.
Signing on to that vision would bring exposure to not only Black & Gray, but other downtown establishments as well, Trustee Scott Andresen said. Food trucks have a strong following of people who might not otherwise be familiar with East Dundee, he said.
Trustee Jeff Lynam, however, said he believes the village should only allow mobile vendors in the downtown area to support events. He also took issue with blocking public parking on usually busy weekend nights.
"I think it's a bad move, just from an aesthetic standpoint alone," Lynam said. "It just goes against what we're trying to do as far as putting together this whole culinary district. ... To have this as a permanent gig in the downtown, I think, is a big mistake."
The purpose of designating the downtown as a culinary district is to provide visitors with a variety of eateries, Trustee Kathleen Mahony said, "not just high-end, fancy foods."
"I think bringing in all sorts of different types of kitchens into the area is a good thing," she said.
The proposed location of the food truck zone was chosen because of its visibility from River Street, its proximity to the Depot grounds and its appeal to those attending events in the downtown square, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said. The parking spaces are not directly in front of any competing restaurants, she said, nor would the food trucks impede on the southern portion of the Depot property typically used by the public.
If the village board approves the measure, establishments would have to obtain a license and follow various restrictions to rent the food truck zone.