Mobile vendors can continue serving hot dogs and ribs in downtown Naperville for at least another year.
The Naperville City Council gave its approval to extending the permits for Joey's Red Hots and John's Rib House through 2014 following months of debate by its downtown advisory group and pushback from the business community.
"Either you're in the mood for a hot dog or you're in the mood for steak at Sullivan's," Councilman Paul Hinterlong said. "I don't believe we're taking anything away from the brick-and-mortar (businesses). It's mostly convenience."
The Downtown Advisory Commission and city staff have been looking at ways to ease issues like vendors being unhappy with the location they have been assigned, and some vendors not showing up consistently as well as concerns from downtown businesses.
The city initially allowed four permits, but only two -- Joey's Red Hots and John's Rib House -- are currently being used. Last month, officials said many of the issues have been rectified and the Downtown Advisory Commission recommended allowing two vendors to continue operating at the Riverwalk and parking garage on Chicago Avenue during lunchtime and late-night hours.
But instead of immediately allowing new vendors to apply, Hinterlong suggested allowing Joey's Red Hots and John's Rib House to continue through 2014 and opening the permitting process for 2015. Two permits would be issued and the city would accept new applications every two years to reduce the burden on staff.
Hinterlong and Councilman Steve Chirico both pointed to survey results showing 84 percent of respondents felt the carts add to the ambiance of downtown.
"I don't relish the amount of time we've spent on this, but we were in a pickle and we needed to catch up to reality of the situation," Councilman Bob Fieseler said. "And I do think Councilman Hinterlong's motion cuts the mustard and frankly we're now on a roll so let's pass it."
Councilmen voted 7-1 in favor of the proposal. Councilman Joe McElroy was absent and Councilman Grant Wehrli cast the lone no vote.
"We have spent more time on these carts than one ever would have imagined from staff time and I still fail to see the benefit they bring to the downtown," Wehrli said.