34th Street Partnership Responds to Street Food Post w/ More Misinformation

On Tuesday, when we wrote about the New York Daily News’ horribly under researched article about getting sick from street food we specifically called out Dan Biederman, the president of the 34th Street Partnership, for drawing incorrect assumptions from the misleading statistics printed in the article.  Yesterday he responded in an email to us (and in the comments of the post).  Here’s his response, plus our response to his response.

Dear Mr. Brooks,
Midtown Lunch, according to its credo, “loves street food, and the challenge of eating in places that most of our co-workers would consider ‘dirty.’” We understand that, but also believe that the proliferation of unsanitary and unregulated food carts serving ill-prepared food does not contribute to the quality of any diner’s experience.

Ok.  So I’ve got to stop you right there.  I feel like these two sentences sum up the entire issue I have with this article and Dan Biederman’s quotes.   Our credo, as you call it, doesn’t say that we like dirty food.  It says we like places “that most of our co-workers would consider ‘dirty’.”  (I can’t believe I’m about to give a lesson in punctuation, but…) the extra quotes around dirty are meant to signify that THEY’RE NOT ACTUALLY DIRTY.  THEY’RE DELICIOUS.  And many workers in Midtown simply think they’re dirty because they’re not chains, or they’re run from carts on the street, or in freight elevator hallways, or run by people who don’t speak English.  You, sir, are the “co-worker” we’re making fun of in our credo.  The sad thing is, as a public figure you have the ability to spread this stereotype on a larger scale than the average Midtown office worker.

Against my better judgement, I’ll allow you to continue.

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Gourmet 53 Celebrating 20 Years With Retro Prices Tomorrow: It's that time of year again, and this year they're celebrating a big one! After being in business for 20 years, Cowgirl Catering, aka Gourmet 53, on 3rd Ave. btw 52nd & 53rd streets is rolling back prices to 1994 levels on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can get a "flashback lunch" for $3 (cash only), with hors d'oeuvres and a lottery where 10 people will win free lunch for a month. Go forth and eat on the cheap!

The NYDN Article About Street Vendor Food Poisoning is the Kind of Rat Shit You’d Probably Get Food Poisoning From Eating

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I’ll try to make this short and sweet because we all have better things to do than read about how poorly researched a New York Daily News article is… but a lot’s been made of the report yesterday that between June of 2011 and June 2014 the city of New York received 359 reports of food poisoning to their 311 hotline. The article goes on to insinuate that this is because street food carts are dirty and unregulated, unlike restaurants which get regular visits from the Department of Health.

As a noted lover of street food, my initial response was to wonder if 359 is a lot.  On the surface it seems like that’s a lot of food poisoning… but in a city of over 8 million people, with 5000+ street food carts and 24,000+ food businesses covered under the department of health, is that number a lot?  There’s no mention in the article of how many complaints were received about brick and mortar businesses.  Just a lot of anecdotes involving tainted chicken, a green spotted hot dog, and the inexplicable chest hair “wafting onto the grill”.  (That’s some pretty long chest hair!)

Nobody likes chest hair in their food, but we’ve got some bad news for those of you who think street food is dirtier than food served underneath and roof, surrounded by four walls. It’s not.  And it wasn’t too hard to find the data to prove it.

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Midtowners Will Never Go Uncaffenaited Again

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For the last few years, in our annual Readers’ Poll, the best coffee category has been the most difficult to narrow down the nominees. It keeps getting harder as we get more and more legit coffee shops serving specialty roasts brewed with all sorts of fancy methods.

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Smiles All Around at Midtown East Shake Shack Opening

We reported back in February that a Midtown East Shake Shack was to open in autumn. Since when has a New York restaurant opening been on schedule?? Leave it to the staff at Shake Shack to roll out on time, 11/11 @ 11:00am to be precise! But does Midtown East REALLY need another Shake Shack?

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Go East and the Wait for Totto Ramen is Much Shorter

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One of the reasons I rarely find myself at Totto Ramen is because the lines are massively intimidating. The ramen is good, but who’s got time to wait in those lines? Don’t New Yorkers work?

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Sign This Petition and Help Save Cafe Edison

News and hearts broke last week when it was announced that Cafe Edison (aka the Polish Tea Room) would be closing soon. The Hotel Edison (which has been home to the restaurant for the last three decades) is kicking the tenant out to make way for a fancy, high-end restaurant. This is a travesty because it really is the last bit of authenticity in the Times Square area. Not to mention the food is just plain excellent. They serve hands-down the best matzo ball soup in the city.

We’re not the only ones who are up-in-arms about this. A petition has been started on change.org to convince the hotel management to reconsider their decision. Many celebrities, such as Glenn Close and Martha Plimpton, have already given their support and testimonies. The signatures have reached over 5,000 people. I have signed my name and urge any Midtown Lunchers who care about the city (and their own lunches) to do the same. You can sign the petition here.

First Look: GRK Ups the Gyro Game in Midtown East

In case you missed it, GRK opened its second location in NYC a few days ago, on Lex btw. 44th & 45th streets. It’s smaller than the first location in the Financial District, but the menu is the same: meats spinning on spits, a few sides, salads, and fresh and frozen Greek yogurt. With a wealth of similar options nearby, my main question was, could GRK compete? I made the ultimate sacrifice and revisited their food after a couple of years to find out the answer. Read more »

Midtown Is Losing Cafe Edison, One of our Greatest Lunches

I woke up to the saddest news I’ve heard in a long time. Decades old Cafe Edison on 47th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, is being evicted from their stuck-in-time space and will close within a month. The Hotel Edison is sending them packing, much llike they did to their other tenants, Sophia’s and The Rum House. I don’t want to imagine what will replace them.

Of all the classic New York institutions, this is the one that was most personal to me. And to this day, it’s really the only reason to step foot in Times Square. Their legendary matzo ball soup, blintzes, sandwiches and never-changing prices will be sorely missed and Midtown will be the worse for it.

We just visited them back in April and now I think I may have to spend all my lunches there for the next few weeks – until the landlords kick me out too. I suggest you do the same.

Newly Opened Black Iron Burger Still Working Out The Kinks

If waiting longer for your food makes you think it tastes better, you’re in luck. If you like to pass the time by checking people out and enjoy a sausage fest, even better. If you can also forget spotty service once a burger hits your tastebuds, get yourself to newly opened Black Iron Burger, now. But more seriously, everyone and their bros seem well aware about this opening. I’m only here to let you know, is it worth the wait?

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