Archive for 'Street Vendor Issues'

Video Break: Street Vendors Continue to Work to Lift the Permit Caps

We’ve been through this before on this site, but it bears repeating. Mobile food vendors in this city face a major hardship because the city has set a cap on the number of permits available. This, of course, has created a black market and forced many hard working food entrepreneurs to pay upwards of $25,000 to find a permit or in many cases, not operate at all. This is why we sadly lost The Cinnamon Snail earlier this year.

Last week there was a rally at City Hall, organized by Street Vendor Project, to push for a bill that would eliminate this cap. Our friends over at One Minute Meals documented the situation and the event in their newest video “You Can’t Feed City Hall.” Check out the video by clicking this link. As advertised, it’s just one minute but packed with important information.

1 Minute Meal: “You Can’t Feed City Hall” from James Boo on Vimeo.

Food Trucks Have Been Forced Out of 46th Street

The block of 46th Street between 6th and 5th Avenue has been overpopulated with food trucks for the last few years.  Since it’s near plenty of office buildings and there are very few restaurant options nearby, it’s one of a few hugely popular Midtown streets for the trucks to congregate. But as two tipsters have informed us, the trucks have recently vanished.

I spoke to some of the truck owners and it sounds like the police have cracked down on this spot over the last few weeks. One day all the trucks were made to close, on another day a few vendors got huge tickets, and now it looks like the spot is officially closed to trucks. For now at least.

This is not the first time trucks have been forced off this street and the same thing happened in 2013 around the same time when 47th Street and Park was shut down. Trucks have a very difficult time finding a legal spot to park since they are not allowed to sell food from a parking meter. But on the other hand, they have a permit from the Department of Health to legally vend food from the streets. So they find themselves stuck in the middle.

It also gets difficult when the trucks travel in packs. While it might be good for business to make themselves visible, it also draws unwanted attention. Once a street becomes too crowded the police will inevitably shut them down. So until new, more fair laws are passed, it only makes sense for the trucks to spread out a bit.

Until things simmer down on this street, we do still have the carts. It might be the prefect time to revisit Kim’s Aunt Kitchen and Moshe’s Falafel.

Help Street Vendor Project Lift The Permit Cap

Food truck lovers mourned last week when we discovered Cinnamon Snail would be calling it quits for good. The big reason for this sad news is because it is next to impossible to obtain a permit to legally vend in New York City.

As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, the permitting system for mobile food vendors is broken. Since the 1980′s there has been a strict limit on the number of permits available for vendors. And unless you were lucky enough to purchase one back then, you basically have to rent one from somebody that was. While the DOH only charges $200 every two years to renew the permit, the actual permit holders are charging food vendors well over 100 times that amount. It makes for a next to impossible task that both criminalizes vendors and limits the opportunities for new immigrants.

The good news is the Street Vendor Project is working on a new campaign to lift the caps. You can sign the petition online, but tomorrow the SVP will be at Cinnamon Snail talking to people about the situation and signing a petition to gain support for the campaign. The truck will be parked a little outside of Midtown on 21st and Fifth Avenue, but it’s worth the walk to support the situation and to get one last vegan doughnut before the truck closes for good on Saturday.

Holy Rollers Kosher Sausage Truck Opens; Trouble Immediately Ensues


Finding a spot is always a difficult task for any new food truck or cart. But one of the first rules of the street is you shouldn’t set up near another cart, truck, or restaurant selling the same kind of food.

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Your Lunch Container is Changing


Most food carts already seem to use plastic or paper containers for their food, but now they have one less choice. NYC City Council passed a ban on expanded polystyrene (read: foam) food containers that will be effective July 1. An article in Scientific American states that the styrofoam containers cannot be economically recycled and so New York has taken a cue from other cities, like Seattle and Washington D.C., that have effectively banned the containers. Hopefully, that means no more off-styrofoam flavors in our street meat.

34th Street Partnership Responds to Street Food Post w/ More Misinformation

On Tuesday, when we wrote about the New York Daily News’ horribly under researched article about getting sick from street food we specifically called out Dan Biederman, the president of the 34th Street Partnership, for drawing incorrect assumptions from the misleading statistics printed in the article.  Yesterday he responded in an email to us (and in the comments of the post).  Here’s his response, plus our response to his response.

Dear Mr. Brooks,
Midtown Lunch, according to its credo, “loves street food, and the challenge of eating in places that most of our co-workers would consider ‘dirty.’” We understand that, but also believe that the proliferation of unsanitary and unregulated food carts serving ill-prepared food does not contribute to the quality of any diner’s experience.

Ok.  So I’ve got to stop you right there.  I feel like these two sentences sum up the entire issue I have with this article and Dan Biederman’s quotes.   Our credo, as you call it, doesn’t say that we like dirty food.  It says we like places “that most of our co-workers would consider ‘dirty’.”  (I can’t believe I’m about to give a lesson in punctuation, but…) the extra quotes around dirty are meant to signify that THEY’RE NOT ACTUALLY DIRTY.  THEY’RE DELICIOUS.  And many workers in Midtown simply think they’re dirty because they’re not chains, or they’re run from carts on the street, or in freight elevator hallways, or run by people who don’t speak English.  You, sir, are the “co-worker” we’re making fun of in our credo.  The sad thing is, as a public figure you have the ability to spread this stereotype on a larger scale than the average Midtown office worker.

Against my better judgement, I’ll allow you to continue.

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The NYDN Article About Street Vendor Food Poisoning is the Kind of Rat Shit You’d Probably Get Food Poisoning From Eating


I’ll try to make this short and sweet because we all have better things to do than read about how poorly researched a New York Daily News article is… but a lot’s been made of the report yesterday that between June of 2011 and June 2014 the city of New York received 359 reports of food poisoning to their 311 hotline. The article goes on to insinuate that this is because street food carts are dirty and unregulated, unlike restaurants which get regular visits from the Department of Health.

As a noted lover of street food, my initial response was to wonder if 359 is a lot.  On the surface it seems like that’s a lot of food poisoning… but in a city of over 8 million people, with 5000+ street food carts and 24,000+ food businesses covered under the department of health, is that number a lot?  There’s no mention in the article of how many complaints were received about brick and mortar businesses.  Just a lot of anecdotes involving tainted chicken, a green spotted hot dog, and the inexplicable chest hair “wafting onto the grill”.  (That’s some pretty long chest hair!)

Nobody likes chest hair in their food, but we’ve got some bad news for those of you who think street food is dirtier than food served underneath and roof, surrounded by four walls. It’s not.  And it wasn’t too hard to find the data to prove it.

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A Little Rain Can’t Keep the 10th Annual Vendy Awards Down

Vendy Awards

The annual Vendy Awards commenced this past weekend with typical fanfare – the live bands played with gusto, the crowd happily munched on food and sipped beer & wine, a mob of volunteers ushered in order and cleanliness, and an eclectic gathering of vendors busted their ass and served some seriously amazing food. This could have been any Vendy award, other than the fact that this festival marked its 10 year anniversary, and that for the first time in this writer’s memory, Mother Nature paid a visit.
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Food Trucks Still Bringing Options to Underserved Areas of Midtown


Many food trucks seem to like to travel in packs. Historically, we’ve seen when food vendors congregate together, the customers come. Unfortunately in today’s heavily regulated (and practically illegal) food truck industry, when food trucks band together it doesn’t always work out well (see last year’s shutdown of Vanderbilt and 47th Street). Let’s hope this situation is different.

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At Lunch Now: Cops Shut Down All the Food Trucks on 47th & Park

Today, the NYPD shut down the “outdoor urban food court” of food trucks located on 47th between Park & Madison. As Blondie had noted in the past, the street is regulated for 3-hour metered parking for commercial vehicles during the week, and food trucks congregated on the same block often lead to complaints and the Alpha Unit breaking up the party.

Many of the trucks are relocating to other locations today and encouraging patrons to write to the Mayor’s Office regarding the repeal of laws prohibiting them from vending at metered parking locations. For the time being, it looks like 47th Street will be off-limits for a while. (Thanks to Lunch’er “Jason” for the tip and the photo.)