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Want to open a food truck? Here's what you need to know
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Want to open a food truck? Here's what you need to know

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IN IOWA

In Bettendorf and Davenport, food carts operate on private property.

“We do not have any regulations on the books that deal with food trucks, specifically,” Bettendorf City Attorney Kristine Stone said.

The city has an ordinance that prohibits vendors from standing on any streets, alleys or sidewalks without an appropriate permit.

The Scott County Health Department handles mobile food vending licenses. According to Karen Payne, an environmental health specialist and health inspector, the department treats mobile vendors “just like restaurants on wheels.” Vendors must fill out an application, schedule an inspection and take a food safety and protection class signed off on by the health department. A license costs $27 per year and is accepted across Iowa.

Food trucks must have:

• A three-compartment sink.

• A hand sink.

• Cold and hot running water.

• A water holding tank.

• A waste-holding tank 15 percent larger than water tank.

IN ILLINOIS

Vendors must complete an eight-hour food service and sanitation course before submitting an application to the Rock Island County Health Department.

Under Illinois law, pushcarts and trucks that are not self-sufficient must have daily access to a commissary or a permanent food-service establishment to clean, service and store supplies.

Each city has its own inspectors, rules and regulations.

At The District’s Great River Plaza in Rock Island, for example, three vendors can set up shop at night and two can sell food during the day.

Currently, Eggroll Express is the only designated vendor there. It operates at night out of Erawan, a restaurant at 1700 3rd Ave.

Nearby, Streets of Italy serves up its wood-fired pizza outside the Daiquiri Factory, 1809 2nd Ave.

Rock Island’s two seasonal street vendors, Eggroll Express and Streets of Italy, both serve out of commissaries in The District, according to health inspector Brian Tauke.

In Moline, licensed vendors are “basically free to go wherever,” Andy Swartz, an environmental health specialist for Moline, said.

Mobile licenses cost $80 per year in Rock Island and $100 per year in Moline.

Vendors also can apply for temporary licenses to operate at a location for a maximum of 14 consecutive days during an event or festival. These licenses range in price from $25 to $75.

For more information, contact the environmental health division at the Rock Island County Health Department at 309-558-2840.

FESTIVAL FEES

Food trucks face high entry fees at street festivals around the Quad-Cities. The costs keep Kate Gessey, who owns My Girl’s Cake Shop, away from one-day events.

“If I’m paying hundreds of dollars to set up for a few hours, it’s almost not worth it,” she said. “I can’t start charging $10 a cupcake to make profits.”

Food trucks face a $600 entry fee at Gumbo Ya Ya or Ya Maka My Weekend, street festivals in Rock Island’s downtown.

It costs $600 to enter Davenport’s Street Fest slated for July 29-30. In addition, 15 percent of vendors’ gross sales are collected at the end of each day.

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Jack Cullen covers health and the outdoors for the Quad-City Times.

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