Hot Dog Vendors Gang Up on the Street Sweets Truck


Urgh.  What did I say on Wednesday? This just in from Lunch’er Lee:

“Just went by the Street Sweets Truck and 4 hot dog carts set up in their spot on 53rd btwn 5th and 6th at 9am. Not to beat a dead horse, but how could selling croissants and coffee possibly cut into hot dog cart business? They sell crappy hot dogs and prepackaged beef patties? Total horsesh*t, now I don’t have a cup of coffee and I am tired.”

I think it’s easy to turn against the hot dog vendors in front of MOMA but look at things from their perspective.

I don’t think it’s right for any cart to intimidate or threaten another cart, but you have to appreciate the full scope of the situation here.  For years, Midtown carts have policed themselves using this method.  Before the latest wave of “hipster” vendors showed up, vendors couldn’t just park their carts wherever they wanted…they had to ask permission, or broker a deal with the other carts in the area.  It’s the reason why there aren’t 20 carts parked in front of MOMA.  Or trucks filling up every single square inch of Midtown for that matter.

It’s easy to say “hey, the more carts the better for us!”  But the truth is, that’s not the case.  If an infinite number of carts were allowed to park in Midtown, the brick and mortar businesses- who have learned to live side by side with a certain number of mobile vendors- will quickly become hostile if the number of vendors multiply exponentially. And they will start coming down on the cops to enforce rules that they might be ignoring right now.  (Like not being able to vend from a metered spot.)

The fact is, the “system” (for lack of a better word) that the vendors have created for themselves does have some advantages.  Mainly, keeping the number of carts at a level that has been acceptable to most Midtown businesses for decades.  If new trucks start disrupting that order, there could be problems that end up hurting us (the cart loving consumers.)

And that doesn’t even take into account the hard working vendors working at nondescript hot dog carts, who have toiled away in these spots for years and years to make wages that would be unthinkable to us- especially considering how many hours they work, and the distances they travel to work at a cart in tourist heavy Midtown.  There is no excuse for intimidation or threats, but the fact is these hard working vendors (who make practically nothing) depend entirely on tourist and walk up business. They need a spot like the one in front of MOMA to survive.  The Street Sweets truck doesn’t need that spot to survive.

The new breed of trucks have so many more resources at their disposable.  Twitter… Facebook… PR from blogs.  And a customer base that will go a little out of their way to find them.  That’s why I suggested that Street Sweets find a less desireable spot, and build their audience from there.  The Treats Truck did it with their spot on 38th and 5th Ave.  The Street Sweets Truck can do it too.  If not, this is just going to keep on happening.

And this should be a lesson to all new vendors, or those thinking about jumping into the business.  Yes, opening a truck is cheaper than opening a brick and mortar store.  Yes, you will get more press because you are mobile.  But finding a spot is not as easy as it seems.  And too many new vendors are looking for lightning in a bottle.  They park in a spot for one day, and if the business isn’ t there they move on to another spot… usually in a high foot traffic area with other entrenched vendors (who end up hassling them.)

New vendors need to be more patient, and know that you might go a few months in a single spot without being profitable- or just squeaking by.  But you have to pay your dues, and stick with a single spot in order to build up a consistent customer base.  Treats Truck did it.  Wafels and Dinges did it.  And so did the Biryani Cart, and the Kwik Meal Cart, and a lot of these hot dog vendors too.  And those last three didn’t have Twitter!


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    this is a sad sight of bullying

  • Who’s running this truck and how do they let a hotdog vendor setup directly in front of there window? Grow some balls and if you need to, bring a few friends to sit on the truck with you.

  • Street Sweets > Hot Dog vendors.

  • I’m with you D. I’m a power lifter and pretty big guy in general, I’d have no problem standing in front of their truck for some treats heh

  • This is retarded. Goats will help any vendor in need if they are willing to compensate fairly….I have many many weapons (machetes, asp batons, brass knuckles etc.)and resources, including a law license, to service every vendor’s needs…

    Seriously, that photo above is insane. If I owned that truck, those idiot vendors would be a bloody mess on the ground b/c I’d be whacking them with my asp baton. Don’t take that shit Sweets Truck—beat those mofos in the face. If they don’t move, MAKE them move, even if you have to hunt them down when they get off work.

  • It does look kind of strange, but If i saw the street sweets truck and i wanted a pastry and this hot dog vendor was blocking it, i would order a pastry from the hot dog vendor. When the hot dog vendor says he dosn’t sell said pastry, I’ll say get the F out of my way then.

  • Aren’t TreatsTruck & waffle and Dinges ‘hipster trucks”?

    Hotdog trucks are ten a penny…with very few stand out ones…Halo Berlin et al.

    Kick their fucking Heads in.(i went trough a punk phase @ 16,srry)

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I disagree with some of Zach’s points. You paint a picture that the street in front of MOMA will be lined with carts. While that may be true initially, that is not likely to last. The carts that survive will be the carts with better food and competitive pricing. You won’t have a situation where you have 20 carts on one street because you will weed out any vendor that can’t compete.

    Yes, I feel for the small hot dog vendors (well i use to until i realized what they do to other vendors) that can’t compete with the likes of the Sweet Truck in the reasons you stated above, but these hipster trucks are targeting a completely different audience than the hot dog vendors. You also have to consider the costs that go into these two different vendors, and while some may be similar, most are vastly different. The guy selling hot dogs on the corner needs less traffic to make up for costs than the sweet truck guys (this is obviously speculation, but I’d be extremely surprised if this weren’t true).

    In a competitive industry (like the food industry), you have to expect the higher quality products + competitive pricing will survive.

    I doubt that the introduction of these hipster vendors on every corner would eliminate hot dog vendors (maybe some, but not even close to most).

    Your point on the brick-and-mortar business is valid and I agree that this is an issue, but not everybody in midtown wants to eat at a cart. For instance, I love eating at all the places that midtown lunch suggests (particularly carts), but none of my co-workers (literally zero) are willing to go with because they refuse to eat from a cart. Their business is loyal to the brick and mortars and I don’t think having 20 carts in one spot will change that.

  • This is messed up!! We’re about to launch in a week or so and I PROMISE that we will not let this happen to us!! i’m tired of seeing this kind of stuff!! I’m all for making friends and trying to accommodate, but this is just ridiculous!!

  • The German-ness is coming out of the Schnitzel Truck. He’s gonna off some mofo’s with efficient German class.

  • We prefer Austrian :)

  • You know down here in the flatiron you have all the silicon alley businesses like mine looking for decent lunch spots.

    Why not try out setting up in the 20s, give the flatiron wasteland some love.

  • we’ll be seeing you soon jerkface!! you’ll get some schnitzel lovin from us, we promise!! :))

  • Hmm.. I have a slightly different take on this. First to address the idea of infinite carts. That can never be a possibility because there’s not enough demand to sustain infinite supply. There’s only so much demand, and at some point the supply will decrease as suppliers realize their truck business sucks. So that’s really not much of an issue.

    There’s also lots of different things going on here. First the city has an antiquated way of issuing permits if dead people’s permits get renewed. The arbitrary number of permits will only serve to create an underground black market. I’ve said this before and will say it again. The city should figure out what they believe is a reasonable number of food cart permits because too many will hurt brick and mortar businesses and as a city you actually don’t want that. So once you figure that out, have an auction! Do it yearly so dead people can’t renew. And if it’s an auction, it’ll be worth it to the city to actually hire people to do these things because it’ll be market price to get a permit. If you think this is not a good idea, then you have to tell the NYC Parks department because vendors in parks have to bid for their permits. (

    Lastly, whether new hipster vendors should pay their dues. If we set up the permit system like the way parks & recreation does it, then we wouldn’t have this problem because permits would then come with a location. This way the vendor in front of the moma can be something delicious instead of some dirty water dog.

    Creating a market where there’s a limited supply (permits) and a large demand (food vendors), serves everyone involved. The city wins to help budget short falls. Vendors win because they have a spot and they know when they bid, what other carts are there. And consumers win because only the best survives.

    Honestly this idea that we should protect those who were there first just because they were there first is ludicrous. The world is a dynamic and fast changing place. We can’t stick to antiquated ways of doing things just to protect immigrant food vendors. The deeper issue is the fallacy of the American Dream. We’re not doing anyone any favors by sticking to the old system. We need better.

  • Schnitzelthings will have a Glock 17 under the counter,im sure!

  • A great Austrian firearm!! but in all seriousness, a bat will definitely be sitting on the truck!! :)

  • the issue about demographics and audience is because certain things are now more popular to eat than dirty dogs and the only way those vendors make money is by selling water and beverages while their actual food goods go unsold. they just bring their boys and smoke the hell out of anyone who sets up and could possibly take away their water/beverage business.

  • @Schnitzel: My god that Schnitzel on your “About Us” page is such food pr0n. Also a big “Yay!” for being defensively offensive with bats.

  • Austrian, Austrian I’m sorry! I’m German, you’re like our little brother that we love so much. :rofl:

  • lol we love u too!! big brothers are good for backup :))

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.