Schnitzel Truck Responds: “It’s Not Our Fault!”

Apparently the Schnitzel & Things Truck didn’t like what I had to say this morning about the issues they had yesterday on 43rd & 6th Ave:

“Just saw your little piece on ML. To be quite honest I don’t really care who you side with. It doesn’t matter to us one bit. But one thing you should know is that our business DOES in fact rely on heavy foot traffic! And because I am on Twitter, it doesn’t give me the right to park where we feel we will get the most customers?

You side with the “old school” but your solution for us, to go find a quiet street isn’t actually a solution that works at all. Instead of siding maybe you should realize that it’s not our fault! There is a conflict situation at hand and I understand the other point of view just as much as you, but I have a business to run and I need to hit my targets on a daily basis to stay profitable. And if it means that I have to stand my ground and get threats from an ice cream guy, so be it.”

“I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, TWITTER IS NOT ENOUGH. It won’t cut it, so next time please try to be a little objective when you criticize. Like I said to you and many others, we don’t want trouble. But we will not back down when it comes to OUR livelihoods!! I think you kind of forgot about that as well. Mr softee and the halal guys aren’t the only ones out there making a living. Stay in touch.”

I love the new crop of street vendors, just as much as the old school street vendors- and I’ve done nothing but support all the new vendors on this site.  But your email sums up why these conflicts are happening more and more these days.  I don’t deny that you have every right to park wherever you want to “get the most customers”, but in the end that’s not a sustainable solution.  Because what happens when the next vendor comes along and decides he wants to park where you are parking.  And then all of a sudden we have 10 vendors trying to park in the same high traffic spot? That can’t be the solution.

The reason your business depends on foot traffic right now is because you’ve been around for less than 2 months!   But it doesn’t have to be that way.  I understand that Twitter is not enough, and I agree it will never be enough to sustain your business. The point I was trying to make is that you have so many tools at your disposable to make your business successful, if you just pay your dues.  Find a schedule of consistent spots, and build up your audience.  You don’t need to park on 43rd & 6th to run a profitable business in the long term. And if you insist of parking there, your short term profit might increase- but you might end up hurting your business (and the business of all street vendors) in the long term.

And that’s my point.  It’s not that I like old school vendors more than new school vendors, or want to protect their businesses more than new school vendors.  The vending community has policed itself fairly successfully for years, using a certain set of unwritten rules. If new vendors were allowed to park wherever they want, there will end up being serious long term consequences.  And not from quick to fight ice cream trucks.  It will be from cops, and brick and mortar businesses, and eventually the government. The vendors who have worked the streets for years understand this.  And that’s why they go to great lengths to protect the status quo.

If every new truck had your attitude, it wouldn’t be long before the streets were filled with trucks.  And that would not be acceptable to the brick and mortar businesses who pay obscene rents to do business on the packed streets of Midtown.  And they will do what they can to “hit their targets” and protect their bottom line… and that means putting you out of business.

I’m not against the Schnitzel Truck.  I’m for the Schnitzel Truck.  I LOVE the Schnitzel Truck.  That’s why I’m trying to help you.  And I think a lot of people who are thinking of becoming street vendors need to learn about these things before opening trucks of their own.  Too many entrepreneurs think that running a food truck is somehow different than running a brick and mortar.  They think, costs are cheaper and there is no rent, so it must be easier to make a profit from day one.  Well, that just isn’t the case. Like any business, it takes time to become profitable, and there are no quick fixes.

When it comes to brick and mortar businesses, a storefront that sees incredibly heavy foot traffic is going to cost much more in rent than an out of the way business location.  So, if you are the kind of business that relies on foot traffic you pay the exorbitant rent and take your chances.  If you are a business that people will go out of their way for, you pay less rent and rely on your marketing or cache or superior product to draw people in.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience you end up with a successful and profitable business.

Why should street vending be any different?  If you want to park in a high traffic area, there are far more obstacles in your way.  Other vendors, brick and mortar businesses, and cops. You’ll get more tickets, and be forced to move more often.  It’s tougher.  And it if  wasn’t tougher, everybody would park there.  And if everybody starts parking in Midtown, the city is going to start enforcing the rules so that nobody can vend in Midtown.  That spot you were in yesterday?  It’s illegal.  Mister Softee truck or not, you are technically not allowed to park there.  So why fight them for the spot?

Your business is the kind of business that over time can be profitable on a less crazy block.  It might take a few months, but isn’t that preferable to fighting over real estate? Especially when a system of “park wherever you want” could lead to the city shutting down vending for everybody.  Wouldn’t you rather build up your business in a spot that is rightfully yours, and then be protected by the same unwritten rules that protect the current vendors from you?

If you fight for a spot like 43rd & 6th, you might win the battle.  But in the long run we’ll all end up losing the war.

What Happened At the Schnitzel & Things Truck Yesterday?


  • street meat gentrification.

  • Gaddammit if they make it tougher to vend (regulation), I’ll be pissed.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I had Schnitzel and Things earlier this week. I like the food. However, I’m baffled by their attitude towards the very food blogger who clued me in on their existence in the first place.

    Hostile messages whining about profit margins will never get you support, S&T. Your first goal should be to learn Public Relations. For example, I am not sure if I’ll ever patronize you again. Had you taken a humbler approach to the conflict, my aversion to your product would be non-existent.

    Zach is right. In unregulated markets, unwritten rules keep things moving smoothly. You are essentially “blowing up everybody’s spot” and being completely unapologetic about it.

    Your desire for profit entitles you to shit on a system that has functioned fairly smoothly prior to your entrance on the scene?

    Any successful enterprise has respected that which came before. The only reason you have this forum for reaping profits is because others before you have created a thriving street meat market in NYC. Rather than storming in with a raised middle finger, perhaps you should go back to basics and show some respect.

    Good relations will ensure success over time. I know you’ve lost more than one customer today. Which approach do you think will be better for your wallet in the long-run?

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I like this website better when it’s about getting good food, not a regulatory soapbox.

  • We need the a Street Meat Alternative Dispute Resolution ala Mad Max 3 to settle these disputes:

    “Two carts enter, one cart leave!”

  • 4 words….arrange them.


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    These guys have been around for two fuckin months and they are already sounding like they are entitled! First, you serve food from a truck that can be deemed a bit pricey for what is served… Second, anyone could tell you you’d have problems parking in that area… Third, if you are so worried about turning a profit, then lower prices… If you rely on heavy foot traffic, then one obvious way to bring that in is to lower prices so that more people are inclined to try it out. Stop with the fancy fuckin cremini mushroom soups and stick to what you were made to serve and knock off like a dollar or whatever… The only REAL reason you’d want to park in that spot is cause it OBVIOUSLY will attract MORE people to pay your higher than usual prices. I’m with Zach on this one. Very good points. These guys just dont get it…

  • I’m all for the ‘new school’ vendors pushing out those craptacular dirty water hotdog stands and stale pretzel carts. And walking by the smoking charred remains of the carcinogenic looking meat skewer carts makes me want to vomit in the nearest trash bin.

    Give me my Taiwanese pork chop or Jamaican jerk chicken and leave the dirty water dogs for the tourists.

  • Wow talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I too lost any interest in supporting these dickwads.

    And it’s Zach’s website, if he think’s it’s an issue that will affect “getting good food” then he has every right to talk about it.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Of course it will get tougher to vend. Thigh meat chicken, gyro cones and rice do not cost as much as breaded and fried pounded chicken, pork and cod (or whole pork chops or merguez sausages or grass fed beef hamburgers to name a few). If you want higher quality food from street carts, it will require folks like the schnitzel truck to take a stand against Mr. Softee and the Halal vendors who try to physically intimidate. NYC has a unique opportunity to become a street food capital, and that will most certainly be regulated, and nurtured by a city focused on tourism and high quality of life (at least in certain areas of the city such as midtown)
    Allowing the status quo of intimidation and unwritten rules is not the way for us (the customers) to get the best food. The side effect will be the loss of the $5 meal, but a lot of decent halal carts cost more than that anyway. The increased costs of carts will mean there will be plenty of space for high margin carts (halal vendors, hot dog vendors…tourists love hot dogs) as the low margin carts will find it difficult to compete when their thin margins get squeezed.

  • Zach’s sounding more & more like a certain government employee who keeps lecturing us on how we have a moral obligation to overhaul health care

  • Nein! A different socialist! Not der national kind!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    these guys sound more german than austrian, maybe keep the focus more on the food at this point and less on controlling the most strategic street corner.

  • I think it’s time we all take a page out of the Papa Perrone book. You ever heard of that guy getting in a fight with anyone?

  • Vat’s the vmax of ze Schnitzel Truck on ze Autobahn?

  • No, but Italy was always good at switching sides when the going got rough

  • I was worried about their spot on 48th when I went there. It’s right next to a busy driveway, and the huge line was completely blocking the sidewalk and kept drifting into the driveway. There were some guys from the building there who were VERY polite about it, IMO, and just kept asking people to line up the other way so nobody gets hurt. I could easily imagine a that situation leading to complaints from the building management, and I was afraid they’d be forced to close up before I got my schnitz! There are a lot of deails to keeping a good spot now, including crowd control.

  • maybe I’m in the minority, but I think it would do everyone some good if all the hipster trucks all started parking in high traffic areas. Look, the city needs to cash in on this food vending permit business that’s thriving on the black market. So what if all this “blows up” and a few hot dog vendors get priced out. That’s the world we live in. We HAVE TO promote the guys who LOVE the food they produce more than we love the guys who just need to pay the bills. That’s sad but true. If chaos and disorder is what we need before reform gets here, then chaos and disorder with the parking situation might be exactly what we need.

  • Zach is absolutely right on this one. Meeting one’s profit target is no justification for Lebensraum tactics. Live and learn. It don’t work that way, especially in New York.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.