Street food vending ordinance before Minneapolis City Council

Will there be more of the likes of Chef Shack, Eat Curbside, and Barrio taco trucks in the near future? Not so fast. While the issue may seem like a slam dunk to foodies, downtown workers, tourists, and others interested in a quick, cheap, and decent bite--not to mention a way to enliven the downtown area as so many other cities have done--some downtown businesses are wrestling with the idea.

A Minneapolis city ordinance, conceived by Council member Lisa Goodmann, would allow up to 25 mobile food vendors in the downtown area for a nominal $483 licensing fee and some $391 for start-up. It was forwarded last Monday by the Regulatory, Energy & Environment Committee "without recommendation" to the full council for its consideration April 2.

Not everyone is on board with the idea. According to Metro magazine, Hell's Kitchen in particular balked at the proposal, saying it wouldn't be fair to allow carts to compete with nearby restaurants that pay thousands a month in rent. In a recent column titled "Moron Awards," Andrew Zimmern calls the idea a "no brainer," with some unsavory words for Hell's Kitchen:

What a bone-headed idea that is. How is this any different than any other business? If you choose (and yes, it is a choice) to pay $33,000 in rent then you are crazy. Second, these types of complainers already compete with those paying less overhead and have been for as long as there have been restaurants. Third, a falafel cart selling 100 sandwiches at lunch helps businesses in the same way that restaurants on the same block help each other to grow business. Fourth, HK is getting into the mobile food game, so it's unfairly hypocritical. And fifth, based on my visit there last Sunday for brunch, the biggest problem HK has is not the burgeoning groundswell of support for mobile food carts. It's their own food and service, which have gone downhill in a big way over the last year.

What a disaster of a meal...rude greeting, a 40-minute wait for food, missed items on our order, major service missteps, six out of seven cold plates of food, and inedible items (truly). And the most puzzling of all: Even if you think it's kitschy to have your servers wear pajamas, the least you can do is insist they are clean, not pilled, stained, and wrinkled. What a turnoff.

Twin Cities Daily Planet has a detailed break-down of the committee meeting. The committee's website has the meeting minutes and staff reports on the proposal.

The council will vote on the ordinance Friday. Stay tuned. Looks like it's gonna be juicy!

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