Frites N Meats Lashes Out At Schnitzel Truck Over Parking Spot
As more and more “new school” trucks started hitting the streets over the past few years there was a lot of talk about Old School vs. New School vendor clashes. Well, more recently is seems like we’ve been hearing about a lot more fights between Old-New-School trucks and New-New-School trucks. The latest battle took place on Monday between two well known Midtown trucks, over a shared Downtown spot… and yesterday Frites N Meats (one of the trucks involved) took to their blog to vent about it:
We, at Frites’N'Meats, are pretty much live and let live people. We have no interest in interfering with others, disrespecting others or foisting our beliefs or ways of doing things on others. We believe that it’s not cool to go to a spot that a person has occupied every day for years and essentially force them out for your benefit, but we do not think that just because you occupy a certain spot one day a week that you somehow “own” that spot the other days that you’re not there…I know that sounds a little confusing, so let me provide an example without using names.
We used to park on Water & Broad in FiDi on Mondays, while another truck parked there Tuesdays. Then one day, due to their decreasing sales, the owner of the other truck came to us and said “I have to change my spots around. I want to be in that spot on Monday, you have to leave!” They then proceeded to tell us that they had the right to kick us out since they “owned” that spot because they had been coming there one day a week for 6 months. We told them that that didn’t seem right as these are public streets and anyone is allowed to be there. Our reasonable comments upset this vendor greatly who then proceeded to start shouting and threatening to physically assault us.
We understand that business is business, but making violent threats as well as claiming “ownership” of something that is clearly public and does not belong to anyone but the city is a bit over the top. This is especially difficult to comprehend since when we thought of parking on Water & Broad we informed this particular vendor that we would be doing that. At that time they had no issue with that, nor did they make any conditions on our being able to do so. Anyway, just wanted to express that and give you a bit of a glimpse in the “seedy underbelly” of the street food business. It ain’t as glamorous as it appears.
Read the complete blog post here
They didn’t “name names” but everybody knows the Schnitzel and Things truck parks on Water & Broad on Tuesdays… so we contacted owner Oleg for a response. He denied threatening anybody with violence and said it was in fact Vadim from the Frites N Meats truck who hurled a platter of schnitzel at his brother.
Of course we’ll never know what really happened… but Vadim does have a history of flying off the handle (in print), and Oleg has had his share of run ins with other vendors. Of course this time the shoe is on the other foot. You may remember that back in August of last year it was Schnitzel & Things that was the “new school” vendor trampling on Mister Softee’s toes/space. And it was Oleg who was the one yelling about “we will not back down when it comes to OUR livelihoods!!” Basically, the Schnitzel Truck rocked the boat when they first arrived and now the even newer guy, Frites N Meats, is coming in with the same Me First attitude.
Not surprisingly Oleg has realized that we were right when we sided with Mr. Softee, and that street vendors need to follow the “unwritten rules”. Not just because a free for all, survival of the fittest attitude could possibly bring an end to all street vending, but also because eventually the new guy becomes the old guy. And the old guy is always going to want to protect what he has built up. Just recently, Wafels and Dinges and Papa Perrone’s got in a similar tiff. But, luckily, Wafels deferred to Papa Perrone’s routine knowing full well that “it pays in the long run to treat other vendors with respect.” Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because Thomas knows that vendors are in a precarious position with the police and brick and mortar businesses. And even if a truck parks in a space one or two days a week, the trucks who come and park there the other 3-4 days a week are going to have an effect on how the neighborhood views street vending in general.
Some businesses are willing to tolerate one truck a few days a week, but could get angry if there are trucks outside their building every day, or if one truck a day turns into three trucks a day. We’re not exactly sure what this particular argument was about, so we can’t say who was right or wrong… but to pretend as if truck owners shouldn’t care what happens in spots that they only occupy once or twice a week is naive (especially if nobody had ever parked in that spot before.)
We’re a big fan of both Schnitzel & Things and Frites N Meats, and hope they can work this out between themselves. But let this be a lesson to all new vendors looking to open a truck in NYC. Learn about how the street food business works before you go picking too many fights. You might be the new guy at first, but one day you are going to be the veteran and some young punk is going to be yelling at you about how it’s a free country and “nobody owns the streets”.
Written by Zach Brooks with Additional Writing and Reporting by Amy Cao