New York Times Turns Giant Eye Towards the Street Vendor Issue
I’ve been wanting somebody to write this article ever since the Treats Truck was first intimidated by the Mister Softee truck on 45th & 6th back in 2007. It took almost two years, but it was well worth the wait. The New York Times has devoted a huge article in today’s food section to all the craziness happening in the street food scene these days, and it’s all in there- from the threats received by the Treats Truck and the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, to the trials and tribulations of the Street Sweets Truck. The piece also mentions the NYC Cravings Truck and Wafels and Dinges, and touches on how the bad economy has created a glut of new street vendors (and the problems this could end up causing as more continue to pop up.) Even the Steak Truck (on 47th & Park) gets mentioned- surprisingly they are not bothered at all by the new La Cense Burger Truck parked just one block away.
But the best part is the shout out that the Midtown Lunchers got!
“After the [Street Sweets] truck’s showdown with the authorities was reported on the Midtown Lunch blog, the restaurant [Bistro Milano] received angry phone calls from readers.”
This whole thing comes one day after a blog post in the Diner’s Journal reported that 6 people were arrested on Tuesday as part of a two year sting operation to crack down on the black market that traffics in street vendor permits.
“The probe concluded that at least 500 food-vendor permits… are probably held illegally [and] those cases have been reported to the city’s Health Department, which issues the permits.”
I’m all for cracking down on the black market, and making sure that all street carts are up to code. But coming down on clean, hard working vendors, who are just trying to earn a living is wrong. Especially when their only crime was obtaining a license in the only way they knew how. They should not be punished because poor policy forced them to purchase permits illegally. It’s only a matter of time before your favorite carts gets shut down because it has a permit that is in somebody elses name. In other words, the sellers should be punished- not the buyers.
I love the coverage these important issues are getting, but I’m staring to worry that all this publicity in the mainstream media might create a repeat of the Red Hook Ballfield vendor fiasco. In that situation, the city stepped in to “fix” something that really didn’t need fixing, at a great cost to the vendors. (And all in the name of the “public good”.) In contrast, the current street vendor system is broken, I’m just worried that any “fixing” that involves vendors bidding for permits, or the city cracking down on illegal permits so that “no money is left on the table” is only going to end up hurting the hard working vendors that have spent years building up their relatively small businesses.
Turf War at the Hot Dog Cart [New York Times]
Hot Dog Vendors Gang Up on the Street Sweets Truck
Prediction: New Carts & Trucks Are About to See Some Serious Backlash
Pret a Manger & Bistro Milano Call Cops on New Street Sweets Truck
Halal Vendors Chase Happy Well Being Cart Back Downtown
Rafiqi’s Tries To Intimidate New Mexican Cart From 49th Street