Conflict For Tunney On Upcoming Food Truck Vote?

By Mike Fourcher | Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gaztro Wagon on Ravenswood Ave. Credit: Patty Wetli.

Before he became an Alderman, Tom Tunney (44th) owned the Lakeview-based Ann Sather’s restaurant chain. Still an active owner and operator of the restaurants, Tunney’s personal interest in the restaurant business is raising anticipation on his vote on the City Council’s pending food truck ordinance.

Last week, the Sun Times reported that Tunney demanded that brick-and-mortar restaurants like his be protected before passing legislation allowing food trucks in Chicago. Current legislation, proposed by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), requires that food trucks be more than 200 feet away from a restaurant and 100 feet from any retail store that sells food.

In the Loop, that would put food trucks almost a full city block from any restaurant, so don’t count on seeing GaztroWagon on State Street – or near any clubs, el stops or most big intersections on the North Side.

Today, Chicagoist pointed out that Tunney’s 100% ownership of Ann Sather’s restaurants provides at least a whiff of conflict of interest for Ald. Tunney. However, Tunney cites a recent Chicago Board of Ethics ruling that puts him in the clear. He also cites that he was a co-sponsor of the original food truck legislation in 2010 (but not the new version) and that he, “believe[s] mobile food trucks are a new trend that can be successful in Chicago.”

The ordinance has yet to be scheduled for a vote, but we should expect a great deal of horse trading between now and then.

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