Prediction: New Carts & Trucks Are About to See Some Serious Backlash

It looks like Midtown isn’t the only place where businesses are calling the cops on street vendors.  Eater is reporting that the Wafels and Dinges truck had the cops called on them yesterday morning by “the management at the Saatchi & Saatchi building at 375 Hudson.” It went on to say that “a building insider told the truck’s staff that there had been a concern their presence made the area “look unprofessional”.

No word on the end result, but earlier this week 1350 6th Ave. successfully chased the brand new Street Sweets Truck from their spot on 55th btw. 5+6th (claiming the truck was ruining the al fresco dining area in front of one of the building’s restaurants.) Much like Midtown Lunchers came to the defense of the Street Sweets Truck, waffle fans on Hudson showed their support on the Wafels and Dinges’ blackboard.

Could this be just the beginning of a wave of mobile vendor harassment?

With so many new street carts and trucks hitting the city these days, I can’t help but think we’re going to be hearing these stories more and more.  Brick and mortar businesses in New York City have always fought to keep vendors away from their entrances, but those disputes went largely unnoticed in the past (except by organizations like the Street Vendor Project.)  If a new vendor popped up, usually an immigrant selling halal food or hot dogs, buildings would call the cops, and the vendor (not wanting to get in any trouble with the police) would just leave.

The new crop of trucks that have been popping up, however, clearly aren’t afraid to stand their ground. They’re more educated about the parking laws, and better equipped to deal with building managers and police officers (not just because they speak fluent English, but also because they will encounter far less hostility from authorities than immigrant vendors are subjected to.) The real problem is the fact that they are selling more upscale food like waffles, high end pastries, fancy dumplings, and fried chicken. These new vendors are going to be perceived as a greater threat to the restaurants and fast food chains that can afford to pay high Manhattan rents.

Eventually these brick and mortar businesses, who have tolerated the occasional halal vendor or hot dog vendor as not being direct competitors, are going to be forced into pushing back. Especially once they realize it’s as easy as calling the cops, and coercing them into enforcing rules and laws that are usually ignored (like vending from a metered spot.)  This month alone we’ve post about the new Street Sweets truck, a new crepe truck, and the Le Gamin Truck. Plus there’s a Schnitzel Truck, and lord knows what else on the way.

Somebody asked me the other day if I thought this “street food” thing was a phase that would die out eventually.  My response was no. Street food has been an integral part of New York City life since the city was founded, and will continue to grow in popularity as long as the barriers to entry make it financially feasible.  But clearly as more and more of these fancier trucks fill our streets, the businesses who pay high Manhattan rents are going to become less and less tolerant. And when they lash out, those of us who want to see more of these vendors need to be there to show support. And that’s to say nothing of the opposition these new carts and trucks are already facing from other vendors who have been on the streets far longer.

I hope I’m wrong, but my gut is telling me this is only the beginning.


The Man Wins: Street Sweets Forced to Find Another Spot
Pret a Manger & Bistro Milano Call Cops on New Street Sweets Truck
Halal Vendors Chase Happy Well Being Cart Back Downtown


  • “street food” we don’t die, we only multiply. [Ice-T]

  • For comparitive purposes, there was a taco truck controversy out in L.A. last year that the street vendors ultimately won:,0,4600263.story

    It gave rise to one of the few political slogans I think I’d ever wear on a t-shirt: Carne Asada is not a crime.

  • That reminds me: yesterday at around 12:30, I saw a guy take photos of Le Gamin truck and its license plate.

  • Perhaps Adrian Benepe, Parks Commissioner, and Dan Biederman President of Bryant Park Corporation, can be persuaded to allow a once a week food truck caravan to park on the gravel walkway around Bryant Park’s grass area for a weekly food truck roundup.

    All the food trucks can lined up around the grass square. There would be plenty of seating on the grass.

    The Park can charge a nominal rent to the vendors for the day to cover Operating Expenses and it would be great publicity.

    I think this is a GREAT idea that should be pursued.

    Food Truck Tuesday in Bryant Park! Rally Sunday for the cause!

  • Best part of this is that the brick & mortar places doing the complaining are tacitly admitting their food blows. If they had good stuff they wouldn’t lose the business to the carts/trucks (ie. Margon, Cer Te) and wouldn’t have to resort to bureaucratic means to shoo away clearly superior competition… better food for less $, what is not to like? Glad you revised your wishy-washy earlier opinion Z-man.

  • @Conrad Logic… nice… nice.

  • May the best CART/ TRUCK win. Screw the high-end lunch spots that carve out expensive garbage.

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    @meyekull: Thats a great idea!

    I stopped by the street sweets truck to show my support to get some morning jolt and pastry, I left with a pastry and no caffeine. Apparently, they are still playing nice with the coffee vendor up the street. Aside from being disappointed, it raises the question on if the sweets truck should still play nice.
    Not only these new trucks have to deal with the corporate brick and mortars of the world, the old school halal and dog vendors, a weak economy, and an apparent influx of new trucks (ie over saturation of the market), it will be interesting to see who is going to be able to survive.

  • Clearly, a mob like “security” business should be started to protect these carts. hmmmm. How many days until I get laid off…?

  • Soooo, what happened? I find it hard to believe that the police would consider a complaint legit if their top reason was that the truck makes the area “look unprofessional”. That idea is totally subjective and since when does one company get to decide who or what business can exist in it’s common location due to how “professional” it looks??? Perhaps the Wafel truck can hit back and have S&S removed for “poisoning the air with their stupid ideas”. DUH.

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    I would hope that the trucks would not park directly in front of a business with the same product offering. That seems like a poor way to get chummy with the neighbors (and I do believe in “respect your elders… or whoever was there first”). Also, I had a nasty accident and had to take an ambulance ride recently, and the owner of the business we were parked in front of was rightfully pre-tty peeved about the exhaust fumes from my ambulance seeping into his restaurant on a Saturday night. So that’s an issue with any big truck with an engine on.

    That said, I don’t care how good a cupcake looks, if I’m planning to spend my $10 at a deli salad bar and sit there and read a New Yorker, I’m going to spend my $10 at a deli salad bar. The recession stinks, yes, but I worry we’re at a point where we’d blame the wind for bad business if it blew hard enough.

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    @meyekull I like your Bryant Park idea.

  • Ok, so they called. Then what? We need to how this went down.

    I dunno but personally there’s only a few ways to deal with bullies. And fuck this respect who was there first BS. That stuff is just so annoying, and it’s exactly why we still have a million shitty dirty water dog vendors.

    Why the hell would we want to continue to endure nasty food just because nasty food was there before good food?

  • @meyekull
    great idea! I would only change one thing, the nominal rent part. That’s exactly why all the food vending permits are taken and why people renew $200 permits of dead people and then turn around to charge $10,000 in some shady deal in the black market. Any time there’s competition for a scarce number of spots, we run into the problem of setting the nominal rent at a price point that’s too low. For example, if all the hot dog and pretzel vendors apply first to the Bryant Park idea, do you take then first? So you have a park full of hot dogs and pretzels? Naw son. That ain’t no good. Or do you say, “We only take the cool trucks!” and then Bryant Park gets sued for discriminating against non-english speaking vendors.

  • Its going viral We Support Food Truck Tuesdays in @BryantParkNYC On gravel path around grass. RT if U agree

  • Oh damn. I gotta check it out if Food Truck Tuesdays or somehting liek that happens at Bryant Park. Thanks goodness it’s only 12 mins walk for me. Haha.

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    @meyekull I think the trucks together with their generators going would not be very pleasant

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    I don’t want “Food Truck Tuesdays” at Bryant Park. I don’t work anywhere near Bryant Park. I want food trucks going up and down Manhattan and parking in different places.

    Putting all the trucks in one place defeats the point of a truck.

  • It couldn’t be worse than the generators that provide heat, light and power for the Fashion Week tents.

  • @coyote

    It’s not like they are Good Humor trucks driving up and down the street ringing their bells. They all park somewhere anyway, and if you read the above article, are running out of a place to park. This could be a Tuesday safe haven for them.

    They wont HAVE to park in BP – It would just be an option for them, and I only suggested one day a week.

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