Food trucks would pay an annual fee of $200 for the right to set up shop at O’Hare Airport staging areas under a mayoral plan advanced Tuesday — but only after Midway Airport was cut out of the proposal.
Southwest Side Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) demanded the exemption.
“We have about $30 million of pending investment on Cicero Avenue. … This is gonna cut against the six years of hard work that I put in developing the south corridor of Midway,” Quinn said.
“I can’t support this in its current form. … This is a blindside to me. And quite frankly, I don’t appreciate it. … I can’t take the word of the department at face value.”
Deputy Aviation Commissioner Juan Manzano, who runs the concession program at O’Hare and Midway, apologized and said no food-truck program at Midway is contemplated.
“We’re focusing on O’Hare,” Manzano told Quinn. “O’Hare is different from Midway.”
That explanation didn’t satisfy Quinn.
“Why is Midway in here then?” the alderman said.
After Aviation Committee Chairman Mike Zalewski (23rd) threatened to hold up the vote, Manzano agreed to eliminate any mention of Midway from the airport food truck ordinance.
For now, the city anticipates allocating space for five food trucks in lots used as staging areas for taxicabs and limousines and ride-hailing vehicles.
“There’s no intention to allow food trucks to vend to the traveling public,” Manzano said. “The focus of this is to address the concern of the cab industry in terms of providing additional food options at the cab staging area as well as the ride-share lots.”
Gabriel Wiesen, president of the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association, expects “three-to-five” food trucks to cycle through O’Hare daily “to see if the consumer demand is there.”
City Hall sources said the food truck program “could include the cell phone lot, depending on what the demand looks like.”
“We would love to be anywhere where we are welcomed and can serve more people,” Wiesen said.
Wiesen called Quinn’s fear of food trucks at Midway “completely unfounded.”
“Food trucks first and foremost don’t really have a desire to go near Midway Airport” because there’s “not a lot of viable parking around there,” he said.
“Also, half of Chicago’s food trucks own brick-and-mortar restaurants. A few of them are trying to get into the airports as well. I don’t view them as direct competition.”