Mobile food vending could be expanding to Minneapolis neighborhoods

Minneapolis residents who enjoyed grabbing a bite to eat from one of the several Downtown mobile food vendors last summer may be getting some good news.

Several City Council members say they want to expand a city ordinance that passed last year to allow for more vendors downtown as well as in neighborhoods in other parts of the city, including Cedar-Riverside, the U of M campus and perhaps Uptown.

“We found that people really did enjoy it and there were some unique foods, there were some great vendors in downtown,” said Doug Kress, the policy aide to City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7).

Goodman wrote an ordinance that passed last spring and allowed for street vending in Minneapolis. It was meant to be a one-year trial. Now, Goodman is working on changes that would allow the vendors to park their units on city streets and feed the meters.

Currently the vendors can only park on sidewalks or in commercial parking lots.

Another council member, Cam Gordon (Ward 2) is working on an ordinance that would allow for vendors in Ward 2 neighborhoods — the U of M, Cedar-Riverside and Seven Corners — and perhaps turning it into a citywide ordinance that would allow them in places like Uptown, Lyn-Lake and Northeast.

Meanwhile, Council Member Meg Tuthill’s staff sent out a letter to businesses in Ward 10 asking for their input on allowing mobile food vendors in Southwest.

The letter notes that because sidewalks in city neighborhoods aren’t as wide as in Downtown, the vendors would need to park on the side of the street or in commercial parking lots.

Robert Lilligren (Ward 6) says the ordinance is very complicated, so it may make sense to start with a couple trial locations in 2011 before going citywide in 2012.

Last year, the city approved 10 applications for mobile food vendor licenses. Shacks began rolling into Downtown last summer serving tacos, mini donuts, turkey drumsticks, lobster rolls and Ethiopian cuisine, among other options.

“Right now the goal is definitely to do this in a fairly fast pace so we can have something to be approved before the next street vending season,” Gordon said.