Schnitzel Trucks Responds: “We Don’t Want Any Conflicts”
This morning we posted about an argument between the Frites N Meats Truck and Schnitzel & Things over a spot downtown… S&T has been taking a bit of heat in the comments so Oleg, the owner of the truck, felt the need to tell his complete side of the story.
As you know from this morning’s post on Midtown Lunch- on Wednesday May 5th, the owner of Frites N Meats, Vadim Ponorovsky blogged about a “situation” that happened between his truck and another vendor. He declined to mention the vendor’s name, but when he gave the example, he mentioned it was a truck that parked on Broad & Water streets on Tuesday’s. The truck’s name he wouldn’t mention was indeed “Schnitzel & Things”. Well, we feel that we must address some of the things Mr. Ponorovsky said, and address the absurd claims of threats of violence. What’s missing from his blog post is the personal relationship that we developed over time, throughout which he would consistently ask to park at locations that we scouted ourselves, which was fine with us. We want to be accommodating and reasonable with all the vendors including “old school” and “new school”.
We never wanted to make this a public issue because there is no need for it. Unfortunately, Mr. Ponorovsky didn’t have the same sentiment.
His claim that I called him and told him that he needed to LEAVE his Monday location so that I can park there is completely false. I never once told him he HAD to leave or couldn’t park in that location. I merely asked him as a friend and as someone who has helped him in the past, to be flexible with us and change only this one day. We didn’t want to switch because of “decreasing sales”. We found another spot that we were interested in trying on Tuesdays that is not available on Mondays, and we were hoping he’d be willing to switch with us. We never told him that he had no right to park there and that we “owned” that spot. Of course we don’t own the spot. However, after working that one location for six months and feeding the security staff at the building, establishing relationships with Police Officers, and ultimately letting customers know that there is a food truck there, we hoped for a bit of courtesy from a friend. All we asked for was to switch 1 DAY with him. As you guys can clearly see from their schedule they are still parking there, which as I said before is completely ok with us.
Whenever we want to try out a spot that another vendors parks at, we automatically ask for permission, and if that vendor ever tells us that they would need that spot back on that day, we would find another location out of pure courtesy.
All of this might sound a bit hypocritical considering we’ve had our disputes in the past about these kinds of situations. In our defense, we were real novices in the beginning, but after working a location for several months you begin to understand why there are disputes between vendors. It takes a lot of time and effort to scout and cultivate locations. It’s very frustrating because we felt that our request was rather simple, and no one demanded that Mr. Ponorovsky leave and never park there again. One thing I will mention, is that Mr. Ponorosvky personally asked me to tweet to 4,300 of our followers that he was going to park on 26th and Park when President Obama was in town and he had nowhere else to go. We were very happy to do that for him, considering him our friend at the time. I guess OUR request to switch days was a little too much for Mr. Ponorovsky to accommodate. So on a Tuesday, the man who claims to not interfere with anyone, nor disrespect anyone, came by our truck during lunch service and proceeded to have a discussion about our request. We tried to reason with him, but his constant response was that it was a “dog eat dog world and he has no respect for the so called “courtesy rules”. In other words, completely unwilling to compromise and understand that A) we’re not asking for much, and B) that he should understand the value of someone putting in the countless months of effort to cultivate a spot that he didn’t find himself. Since there was zero understanding, from his point of view, we felt that it was disrespectful to us, and a heated exchange of words did occur. THERE WERE ABSOLUTELY NO THREATS OF VIOLENCE ON OUR END!
In addition, before the conversation took place, he ordered a schnitzel platter from us, and after the exchange of words, as Mr. Ponorovsky was leaving, he turned around and threw the schnitzel platter at one of the owners of the truck and the platter hit him. We have witnesses to back up this claim. He did this in front of our truck during our lunch service. That’s a very respectful thing to do I guess?!? We didn’t even want to mention this because we felt it was a personal matter, but since Mr. Ponorovsky went public with absurd allegations on his blog, we felt compelled to respond.
At the end of the day, we don’t own that spot, he doesn’t own that spot, the city owns that spot. As a community of vendors, we have to understand each other and sometimes compromise with others even if it’s somewhat inconvenient for us. Mr.Ponorovsky appears to be above researching and cultivating locations himself. We gave him a helping hand as much as we could in the past. It was a simple request from a friend, not a stranger. For him to go public with this and try to look like the innocent guy with his track record is a really immature and weak move.
This gives us a good opportunity to talk about what we’ve learned and gained an appreciation for, since we’ve launched. The food truck business is not an easy one. It is a business with many hassles. When we came onto the scene, we also had this “you don’t own that spot mentality” and ultimately no vendor does “own” any one location. However, that way of thinking caused us to have several conflicts because we were novices. After some time on the streets scouting locations and working them, you begin to appreciate how difficult it is to cultivate a following. We don’t believe in the unwritten rule that one spot belongs to this vendor or that. We believe in the unwritten rule of courtesy and the ability to accommodate vendors that could one day give you a helping hand. We respect this rule, because it ultimately shows a willingness to compromise and help each other out. You guys all know, we’re out there to sell schnitz, and in the process respect and accommodate our peers. It’s ok, we wont hold a grudge against Mr. Ponorovsky, because at one point we felt like him as well. Maybe if he starts to scout his own locations, he’ll change his perspective a bit. This is not to say that every location we park at, we found ourselves. It was the generosity of the vendors that started parking there to let us use those spots. If they decide that they would like to switch with us, we wouldn’t blink for a second, because it was nice of them to let us park there in the first place.
So that’s our official response. We don’t want any conflicts, and you can ask any other vendor, we are one of the most accommodating trucks on the road. We didn’t want to make this public, as it’s a private issue between Mr. Ponorovsky, and us but since he did, it was our duty to explain the situation. We have no motivation to make ourselves look innocent, as Mr. Ponorovsky has tried to do with his blog post. We didn’t come to HIS truck during lunch service only to throw food at him because of a disagreement, HE DID. We didn’t blog about the incident and tried to play the innocent little sheep, HE DID. All we asked was for both of us to switch days!! Seems fairly reasonable. Us from Tuesday to Monday, and him from Monday to Tuesday. In time, hopefully Mr. Ponorovsky will understand the big picture, so that we as vendors can build a community. I can say many more things about his character but I won’t because it’s pointless. What we don’t appreciate is accusations of threats of violence. We will stand up for what we believe is the right thing to do, but in no instance would we be violent, unless it’s to defend ourselves.
Sorry for such a long response, but I felt it was necessary to give you a background on the situation. And he’ll probably respond with some clever words and more accusations. That’s ok, we know what happened. Now can we get back to selling schnitz??? Can we have a problem free week?
Nice. Another case of he said she said. We should note that we spoke to Vadim before we got this email, and he claims that not only has he decided to vacate the Monday spot next week- but he did receive threatening text messages from Oleg’s brother. When reached for comment, Oleg took responsibility for those texts but says they were sent after he threw the schnitzel platter and was not about moving spots but about retaliating if he ever threw something at his brother again. (Both vendors confirmed that it involved Oleg letting Vadim know where he would put that schnitzel platter if he ever tried something like that again.)
Agree to disagree I guess! Clearly this is a case of both vendors having a disagreement over what one is entitled to or not entitled too. It’s hard to say who is right or wrong (they both have completely valid points, as well as claims that can never be proven) but I do know this… as new school vendors become old school vendors, views always change. I’m guessing the same thing will happen here.
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more. Vadim sent in this final response at the end of the day on Thursday.
It was a pleasure speaking with you. I honestly dont have much time to engage in this further. I’m much too busy trying to put out the best product I can which is much more important to me than the comments of another vendor. As I have told Oleg then and today, while he on both occasions insisted that he would insert food objects where they clearly dont belong according to the latest Health Dept regulations, I wish him and his Bro, Gene well. My post on my blog was simply asking “Who owns the streets”? Oleg can continue to emphatically state that his Bro Gene, did not threaten me prior to my throwing the schnitzel platter at him, but we both know the truth there. I also told Oleg in the interest of full disclosure, that I threw the platter, and in fact commended him on how straight and true the schnitzel plate flew, representing a very well balanced schnitzel. Also considering that the platter hit his Bro Gene in his butt, I dont think the damage done
warrented any medical care. I hope we can close this out and move on more substantive issues. All the best to all trying to make a buck out there. — Vadim