NORMAL — Jon Fritzen and his business partner Steffan Block would like to offer a new concept in “street food” to uptown Normal but literally have a roadblock — town code currently doesn’t allow it.
Whether that policy changes will be up to the City Council. Members will hear the pros and cons of mobile food vending and the policies of other municipalities at the 7 p.m. Monday council meeting.
Town Planner Mercy Davison said staff needs direction from the council — whether to pursue a change in the ordinance and allow mobile food vendors or maintain the ban. If it is allowed, rules need to be decided.
The idea surfaced a few months ago when Fritzen and Block and the owner of Windy City Wieners approached town leaders about the possibility of mobile food vending businesses.
Fritzen and Block have an English double-decker bus they are turning into a mobile restaurant. The kitchen will be on the first floor and there will be seating on the second floor.
“Food trucks in general add vibrancy in a downtown community,” said Fritzen.
The idea was discussed at Uptown Partners for input and it brought mixed reviews.
“The greatest concern to date has come from owners of uptown restaurants,” Davison said.
That’s one of the reasons one of the options being presented to the City Council for consideration is only allowing mobile food vending on private, commercially zoned property.
Davison said that would limit the vendors to about four locations — in the parking lots by LaBamba, Brew-Ha’s, Maggie Miley’s and The Alamo II — and require permission from the owners.
Fritzen said he’s talked with Alamo II owners about the prospect.
“It wouldn’t be a permanent location,” he said, but rather for special events or a couple times a week.
Two Blokes and a Bus already have worked agreements with sites in downtown Bloomington, which allows the practice, he said. That option could start in a few weeks when the bus is finished.
“We’d love to vend in both cities,” Fritzen said.
The Alamo II location would be perfect, he said, because of the 20,000 Illinois State University students and additional faculty members nearby.
Davison said another decision the council would have to make is when mobile vending would be offered. Fritzen said Two Blokes and a Bus would have regular hours (lunch and dinner) but also would be interested in late night service.
In another matter, the council also will consider putting a second referendum on electric aggregation to the voters in November. The measure, which would allow bundling of Ameren electric customers to get cheaper rates, failed to pass in the March election.