- April 15, 2014
The Schnitzel King is dead.
Greg Burke and Kristin Casper, the regal duo behind their food truck, the Schnitzel King, announced the news on Facebook yesterday. “With the harsh food truck laws in Chicago, coupled with some kinks at our storefront location, we’ve been forced to close down our schnitzel operations here in Chicago,” they wrote.
Greg and Kristin joined forces with the Institute for Justice and sued Chicago for its harsh vending laws in November 2012. Both were featured in IJ’s Game of Thrones-inspired video about the case. The city has banned food trucks from doing business within 200 feet of any brick-and-mortar business that serves food. That includes not only restaurants but coffee shops and convenience stores as well.
Violate that rule and entrepreneurs can face fines of up to $2,000—ten times the penalty for parking in front of a fire hydrant. To enforce the 200-foot rule, Chicago is forcing all food truck owners to install a GPS tracking device that reports each truck’s every move. That invasion of privacy shows a shameful lack of respect for Chicagoans’ constitutional rights.
After losing his job in the recession, Greg poured his life savings into refurbishing a 1970s Jeep and transformed into the Chicago Schnitzel King. He started vending in November 2011. When Kristin lost her job as well, she joined Greg and starting working at the King full-time.
Unable to sell where they wanted to under the new vending regime, the two opened a storefront last June to keep the business going. But that wasn’t enough to save the King.
Unfortunately, Chicago’s regulations have killed businesses beyond this regicide. Zina Murray opened Logan Square Kitchen, a shared kitchen and business incubator for those who wanted to own their own bakery and storefront. But the city’s licensing laws eventually killed her dream and left 15 entrepreneurs without a home. IJ is also fighting to defend the rights of UberX, Lyft and Sidecar drivers from a frivolous lawsuit filed by Chicago’s powerful taxicab industry.
While Greg and Kristin are currently “taking our schnitzel to greener pastures,” they will continue to be a part of IJ’s lawsuit. IJ will keep fighting for vendors’ rights, both in Chicago and nationwide.
Long live the Schnitzel King!
-- Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice