In his continued effort to get the Chicago City Council to change current food truck regulation, which at present doesn't allow chefs to cook onboard the traveling kitchens, Matt Maroni has launched a petition at Change.org under the guise of his website Chicago Food Trucks.
At present, nearly 4,000 people have signed the petition and Maroni, who owns the Gaztro-Wagon truck, wants to bring this to the city's aldermen. The petition originally launched about a month ago, but Change.org felt the cause was strong enough that it sent a mass email to its national user base on Thursday of this week.
The day before the Change.org email went out, the petition had about 2,000 signatures, according to Maroni, who is also working with social media manager Josh Hersh. Within 24 hours, it had nearly doubled, showing that people really do support a change in the laws.
"It's growing steam. People are ready for a decision here and people need to keep the pressure on the aldermen," Maroni said. "It's not about protecting the restaurants; it's about consumer choice."
That last sentiment, about not protecting the restaurants, refers to push back from brick and mortar restaurant owners who feel that food trucks will hinder business. However, a current regulation states that no food truck can park within 200 feet of an existing restaurant, which Maroni thinks is fair. "There are other trucks who want to fight the 200-foot rule, but I don't think it's smart," he said. "I say let's just get cooking."
Maroni said that while the city council met this week, he hopes the proposed change will come to attention at the next meeting in October. The amendment sits in two committees at present—business and licensing and economic development. The proposed law change has to come out of committee before it can go to vote in front of the entire council. And while Maroni has met with supporters, namely 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, he said he's not been given the opportunity to meet with any opponents.
"I just want to sit down with them and talk about it as grown adults and come to a compromise to make this happen and make it a vibrant scene," Maroni said. "People are getting restless."
If the law were to pass, it'll still take 90 to 120 days before the city starts to issue any licenses, Maroni said. An October passage means the first licenses could start getting issued in February, which would be good timing to allow truck owners to start outfitting their trucks for the 2012 season.
Matt Maroni on the Gaztro-Wagon [Photo: Sun-Times]