Chicago Food Trucks

Burke v. City of Chicago
Should the city of Chicago be in the business of protecting a few politically connected restaurateurs from competition?
 . Greg Burke and Kristin Casper Chicago Schnitzel King Food Truck

Chicago food truck entrepreneurs Greg Burke and Kristin Casper have teamed up with IJ to fight to overturn unconstitutional and protectionist laws.

Report: Food Truck Freedom; How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your CityReport:Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks
Download IJ Reports: Food-Truck Freedom: How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City and Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks: Why the Facts Support Food-Truck Freedom
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Watch Game of Food Trucks


That is the question to be answered by a major lawsuit filed Wednesday, November 14, 2012, in Cook County Circuit Court by the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a national public interest law firm—and three Chicago-area food truck entrepreneurs. 

Cities nationwide are experiencing the benefits of food trucks.  But for years Chicago had not embraced that movement.  For example, Chicago did not allow cooking on food trucks and it told food truck entrepreneurs that they must stay more than 200 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants.  So in June 2012, when the city announced it would be revising its vending laws, food fans were excited. 

The law that passed in July, however, continues to make it illegal for food trucks to operate within 200 feet of any fixed business that serves food.  The fines for violating the 200-foot rule are up to $2,000—ten times higher than for parking in front of a fire hydrant.  Further, the city is forcing food trucks to install GPS tracking devices that broadcast the trucks’ every move.  According to the Chicago Tribune, “the ordinance doesn't serve the needs of the lunch-seeking public. It benefits the brick-and-mortar eateries, whose owners don't want the competition.”  

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs.  For more on the lawsuit and IJ's National Street Vending Initiative, visit    


Essential Background

Audio, Video and Images

Backgrounder: Sweet Home Chicago? Food Trucks Get the Cold Shoulder in the Windy City

Client Video

Client Photos

Latest Release: Chicago Food Trucks Get Their Day in Court; Judge denies city’s request to dismiss lawsuit, case will proceed on facts (June 13, 2013) Press Conference Video

Launch Release: Chicago Food Truck Entrepreneurs File Lawsuit Against City, Join National Street Vending Initiative (November 14, 2012)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Complaint filed November 14, 2012 (PDF)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit: 


November 14, 2012

Court Filed:


Cook County Circuit Court



none available

 Current Court: Cook County Circuit Court


Lawsuit Filed
  Next Key Date:


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

none available

Legislative Report: Food Truck Freedom: How to Build Better Food Truck Laws in Your City

Report: Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks: Why the Facts Support Food-Truck Freedom

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Op-ed: Chicago bullies food truck owners Chicago Tribune (November 11, 2014)

Article: City Rules Lure, Push Away Food Truck Flavors The Huffington Post (July 19, 2014)

IJ's National Street Vending Initiative

Article: Food truck owners to file lawsuit against city; Chicago Sun Times (November 14, 2012)

Related Case: Atlanta, GA Vending: Miller v. City of Atlanta

Related Case: El Paso Vending: Casteneda v. City of El Paso

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Institute for Justice
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Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
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