Cupcake trucks confiscated in Philadelphia

Kate Carrara sells her desserts at JFK Plaza. Her husband says she never intended to violate regulations and will try to comply with city requirements. L&I says her truck had been parked in University City without a vending permit needed for that area.
Kate Carrara sells her desserts at JFK Plaza. Her husband says she never intended to violate regulations and will try to comply with city requirements. L&I says her truck had been parked in University City without a vending permit needed for that area.
Posted: August 26, 2010

Is there cupcake chaos in Philadelphia?

The popular vending truck run by Kate Carrara, known as the "cupcake lady," needed to be confiscated because she had been warned where not to park and continued to break the rules, a top city official said Wednesday.

The cupcake lady's husband, Andy, said she did not intend to violate any regulations and would try to comply with city requirements.

In the meantime, the operator of another cupcake truck emerged Wednesday to complain that his truck was confiscated by the city two weeks ago.

Carrara's truck was taken Tuesday afternoon by officials from the Department of Licenses and Inspections, which said it was parked in University City without a vending permit for that area, said L&I Commissioner Fran Burns.

The truck was parked on Market Street at 33d Street. "She thought that spot was legal," said Andy Carrara.

Burns said her agency's first run-in with the cupcake truck was on July 8, when her inspectors responded to a complaint about the truck being parked at Broad and Callowhill Streets in the Spring Garden section.

L&I determined that the Carraras' business, now called Buttercream International Inc., lacked several licenses to operate the truck.

Andy Carrara, 37, said that there was a "mix-up" on the licenses and that the truck stopped operating for two weeks until documents were in order. Burns said the truck was properly licensed as of July 26.

On Aug. 12, L&I inspectors found the truck within the prohibited University City area and gave Kate Carrara, 35, a warning, Burns said.

When the truck reappeared in University City on Tuesday, L&I decided to confiscate it. Carrara's husband paid $200 to get it back from a garage in Philadelphia.

David Dilks, operator of the recently launched Call Me Cupcake truck, said he had his truck confiscated by L&I two weeks ago on Market Street near 19th Street in Center City.

"I thought, 'This is a joke. I'll go away. I'm sorry,' " Dilks recalled. L&I wasn't joking. He paid $200 to get his truck back the next day.

Dilks, 40, said he had since learned he cannot operate in Center City or University City. What is unclear to him are some of the boundaries, a complaint echoed by the Carraras.

Dilks said he asked a woman at L&I to define where he was allowed to operate. He was told it was up to him to figure it out, based on numerous pages of regulations.

"Other cities around the United States welcome cupcake trucks with open arms," Dilks said. "It's like [the city is] trying to stifle this thing."

Burns said it was simply a matter of applying the law evenly among vendors.

"It's not fair to let some people not follow the law," she said.


Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.

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