Portland, Oregon is known for their food carts and trucks, with concentrations of vendors calling countless parking lots across the city home. Minneapolis changed its laws to allow mobile food vendors to operate on a regular basis in Downtown Minneapolis in 2010. The rule change was limited to Downtown to work out any logistical issues with the intent on expanding the allowed areas to the entire city, according to MPR.
Recently, I have received inquiries from two groups that hope to bring their mobile food business to Uptown on a fairly regular basis. Until the City lifts the geographic restrictions, the vendors will be limited to Downtown Minneapolis.
What would be allowed in the event it were lifted with the current rules in place:
- Vendors may not be located within 100 feet of a restaurant with direct access to the sidewalk without the permission of that restaurant. With Uptown’s many restaurants, will mobile vendors earn permission? If not, where is a viable location in Uptown to operate more than 100 feet away? 188.485(c)(4)
- No more than 1 vendor may occupy a parking lot. Forget those awesome Portland vendor courts that share seating and even cover from the rain. 188.485(c)(7)
– Vendors would be restricted to operating between 7:00am and 12:00am unless within 300 feet of any residential use, which then only allows operation until 10:00pm. So strike out filling your late night cravings after a night out on the town since most of Uptown has a residential unit within 300 feet. 188.485(f)(4)
- Vendors would not be allowed to put out chairs for people to sit at. So count on making a mess or maybe just bring a chair. 188.485(f)(12)
If the above are indeed correct, then it looks like Minneapolis has a long ways to go before it can offer what other cities offer in terms of quality, enjoyable outdoor mobile food vendor experiences. Don’t get me wrong, the food will be great and more affordable than many existing Uptown businesses, but the experience will be limited to standing or finding make shift seating since Uptown’s streetscape doesn’t include benches. If expanded throughout the city, hopefully City Hall will reconsider some of the specific regulations it has on the books.
But first, the question remains…will the geographic restrictions be lifted? To be continued…