One donut truck is pitting itself against the city of Evanston over the city’s requirement that food trucks must be operated by brick and mortar restaurants within city limits.
On Tuesday, Beavers Coffee & Donuts filed suit against the city of Evanston in Cook County Circuit Court’s chancery division.
“We’ve been to Evanston for a couple of events at Northwestern, and that’s how the whole situation arose,” owner Gabriel Wiesen told Patch. Most recently, he and co-owner Jim Nuccio had obtained a temporary permit to operate at Dillo Day.
But when they wanted to return to Evanston to sell their specialty donuts and beverages again, they learned that a food truck had to be owned and operated by a local restaurant in order to obtain an official permit, good for one year.
Wiesen referred Patch to the business’ attorney, Jacob Huebert of Liberty Justice Center, for further questions. Huebert was not immediately available for comment.
According to a post on the Liberty Justice Center website, the lawsuit argues that Evanston's food truck regulations treat local restaurant owners and food truck vendors from outside the city differently, violating the Illinois Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
"That restriction doesn’t serve any legitimate health or safety purpose – Beavers Donuts fulfills every other licensing requirement – but serves only to protect one group of established business owners from creative competition," the website reads.
Food truck regulations are relatively new to the books in Evanston. Aldermen approved the city’s food truck ordinance less than two years ago, in September 2010. In addition to the provision that vendors must be affiliated with a local restaurant, the ordinance also prohibits food trucks from operating within 100 feet of any local restaurant.
Grant Farrar, attorney for the city of Evanston, issued a statement in response to the lawsuit. He noted that city staff spent months developing the city’s food truck ordinance, and said that the city council considered it “assiduously and thoughtfully” before it passed.
“In their race to the courthouse steps, the plaintiffs refuse to acknowledge the city of Evanston’s Home Rule authority, nor are they acquainted with the legislative history on this matter,” he wrote in the statement. “We will aggressively defend the city’s ordinance in relation to this complaint.”