New law allows street food vendors in Mpls

5:14 PM, Jun 17, 2010   |    comments
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  • MINNEAPOLIS -- If the food you see at the Chef Shack looks different than what you usually get from a kitchen on wheels that's probably because it is.

    Owners Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer are celebrated chefs and when their food got rave reviews at several local restaurants they decided to hit the road.

    "We said, 'Let's get a truck or a trailer and let's take this mobile,'" Summer said. "Because I could see on either coast it was the next big thing."

    So big that Minnesota food vendors are not just for the State Fair anymore. The Twin Cities alone have dozens of Farmers Markets and many are quickly growing.

    With pedal powered smoothies, three signature sauces and a love for homemade food, Erica Strait launched Foxy Falafel just this spring, and already her food is a hit.

    "The farmers markets are a wonderful place to see people and meet people, and I've been getting a lot of repeat customers," Strait said. "It's just a really good vibe."

    That's why some vendors want now to expand, asking the city of Minneapolis to take their food to the streets. This April, the city council agreed, and unanimously approved mobile street vendors downtown.

    "People in Minneapolis will really have a lot of fun trying and eating street food," said Samson Benti, who owns She Royal Deli.

    But less fun, say the vendors, is applying for the city's approval.

    Twelve businesses have now submitted the paperwork to set up trailers downtown, and none have been approved.

    Seventh ward policy aide Doug Kress says because it's a new ordinance and the process takes time from regulating the size of the trailers, to meeting health codes, to keeping sidewalks open. Vendors say it's taking too long, especially with such a short season to sell.

    "It just feels like right now there are lots of things standing in the way," Strait said. "There is a lot of red tape right now."

    Kress says the city is committed to helping the vendors set up soon. And some say in the meantime, they may head to St. Paul, which has a smaller lunch crowd, but also fewer regulations.

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