Last year, the Chicago City Council took action to regulate the 1,500 or so food carts that serve food without business licenses. And now, the city has issued its first food cart license to Melissa's Palacinke Crepes, a caterer and long-time member of Chicago's farmers market circuit.
The city issued the license on March 23 to Serbian immigrant Danka Marinkovic. She will focus the cart in The Loop, serving up crepes, pasta bowls and salads. Marinkovic said she hopes to add a second cart by June, wanting to provide the city with a low-cost and healthy option. She also wants to work with Chicago Public Schools and help students have better lunches.
"When I was a kid, I saw a roasted-chestnut vendor, I saw it at Marshall Field's and that just stuck," she said.
Licenses cost $350 for two years but that isn't the biggest obstacle, Marinkovic said. The biggest cost is having a rental kitchen to prepare the food. Food cart operators can't prepare any food while in the field, and that might discourage food cart owners from applying for a license, Marinkovic said.
Will food carts ever become hip in Chicago? Marinkovic hopes eventually the city comes to appreciate them, as Chicago is finally getting something other major cities have had for years.
DNAinfo first reported the story.