Protest stalls move to restrict food trucks on Drexel campus

 A City Council proposal meant to limit Drexel food trucks is being reconsidered. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A City Council proposal meant to limit Drexel food trucks is being reconsidered. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Advocates of mobile food trucks near Drexel University are claiming victory after a city councilwoman shelved a bill that would have placed new restrictions on the vendors.

The protest over new regulations reached a fever pitch after an online petition attracted thousands of supporters.

Polish crepe-maker Zbigniew Chojonicki wasn’t a fan of the bill sponsored by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

The measure called for restricting the number of food carts around the campus to 25, inevitably forcing some out, Chojonicki said. In addition, the bill would have assigned spots to the trucks and carts. That’s a problem because moving around — following demand — is key to the mobile food business.

Drexel officials pushed for the bill, according to Blackwell. She said they cited the university’s expansion, and the ongoing construction that comes with it, prompting fears that vendors would get in the way. Others, including the creators of the online petition resisting the regulations, say the university doesn’t like how the vendors compete with on-campus dining options.

Chojonicki, who’s been slinging crepes for eight years on Market Street, said he believes that’s why Drexel was lobbying for the bill. And if that’s true, “that’s totally their fault,” he said, as he prepared an Italian chicken crepe for a customer.

“The prices they have. Their quality of food. The people who are buying from us have much bigger choice,” he said. “And of course, you see now, how many supporters we got.”

Blackwell said the online petition took her by surprise, saying she spoke to vendors before the bill was proposed and everyone seemed on board with it.

“I have no hidden agenda with this. I love vending. I’ve always loved vending,” Blackwell said. “We’re trying to make sure everybody is satisfied.”

In April, City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilman Mark Squilla that created a new legal category for food trucks, giving vendors more leeway to operate in the city. 

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