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.
Archive for 'Street Vendor Issues'
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.)
As Blondie reported in June, over the past year or so, the number of food trucks parking on 47th Street between Madison and Park has been growing. All summer, the block has been a reliable destination to catch any number of tasty food trucks. I guess there haven’t been any legal/parking conflicts yet, as evidenced by the fact that the trucks continue to park there. But now, it looks as though the food truck madness is spilling over to Park Avenue…
Over the years, we’ve kept track of the ongoing issues with being a food truck vendor in Midtown. Block after block has gone from hot bed of truck activity to crackdowns and being literally off-limits for months or years. One thing we’ve always advised to the owners is do not congregate on the same block as it inevitably leads to complaints and the Alpha Unit. Such advice is not being heeded on 47th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, the bona fide home of Jianetto’s Pizza Truck…
If you follow the street food scene as closely as we do you’ll want to read this piece in the New York Times Magazine by Adam Davidson from NPR’s Planet Money. He interviews Thomas DeGeest from Wafels & Dinges and the owner of Taim, and gets them to say something that very few vendors will admit publicly… the food truck business stinks. It chooses to focus on the city restrictions more than the actual business model of street food (which also sucks, btw) and compares the street vending scene of Midtown to a third world country.
Coming shortly after the announcement that Bloomberg wants to launch a team of lawyers to hunt down food vendors with unpaid fines, we finally get some hopeful news on the food cart front. Last night City Council Speaker (and mayoral hopeful) Christine Quinn announced that on Wednesday she will be calling for a vote on the bills that the Street Vendor Project have been proposing for almost a year now. I guess she read the signs. The bills would lower the vendor fines from an unmanageable $1000 to a fee that vendors will actually be able to pay.
This is great news for street food vendors (and those of us who like to eat what they’re selling). But Gothamist reported that Mayor Mike (twirling his evil moustache) has proclaimed that lowering the fines is “one of the stupidest things I’ve heard.” He is threatening to veto the bill. Sean Basinski, from the SVP, believes the bills will have the full support of City Council and that they can hopefully over-ride the potential veto.
An article in Gothamist on Friday revealed that Mayor Bloomberg is proposing to create a team of seven lawyers who will hunt down food vendors with outstanding violations. He’s willing to invest $580,000 in the program assured that they will recoup that money with the payment of tickets. I’m betting he’s wrong.
The reason why the majority of the millions of dollars in tickets have not been paid is because the fines are simply too damn high! The Street Vendor Project has been arguing this for years (since the Bloomberg administration raised the fines from $250 to $1000 back in 2006). They even held a hearing last year to get the $1000 fines lowered to a more moderate $250 and have been campaigning for City Council Speaker Quinn to call the bill for a vote.
SVP Director Sean Basinsiki responded immediately with an email blast to members. It’s after the jump…
Food Truck Crackdown Continues in the City: Despite showing their heroism in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, food trucks are continuing to be harassed by the NYPD. Grub Street mentioned that both Phil's Steaks and Seoul Food were towed from Union Square last week, an area heavily populated with trucks. Let's hope the trucks in Midtown start spreading out (meaning not congregating on one street) to prevent the same thing from happening here.
Posted at 1:31 pm, January 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment
As you may remember back in April, the Street Vendor Project attempted to pass a bill that would lower the $1000 fines for food vendors. These are not for health or safety concerns, but things like having your license in your pocket instead of around your neck. Seriously? $1000 for that?
The hearing was quite an event and many vendors and supporters got their voice heard. But more than 6 months later and the bill has not even been voted on yet. To give City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a nudge to convince her to at least call upon a vote, some street vendors have put up signs alerting the public to the situation. You can help support the vendors by calling (212) 564-7757 or emailing Speaker Quinn and ask her to call for a vote on Intros 434 and 435.
Posters have already gone up on 100 carts around the city with many more joining the campaign. The carts themselves are a perfect visible platform for getting the word out, especially when placed right next to a modest little blog’s strategically placed stickers.
We already reported on the fact that some of our favorite food trucks are noticeably absent from Midtown because they are donating time and food to help the hurricane relief efforts. After support from Jet Blue and individual donations, the program is being continued with the help from none other than the Mayor’s Office. The New York Food Truck Association, which includes Schnitzel & Things, Taim, and Souvlaki GR as members, is being sponsored by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. This is really wonderful news for those victims of Hurricane Sandy and let’s hope this will also be good news for the city’s thoughts about the food trucks when they get back to serving the streets. Get more info and donate to the cause yourself on the NYFTA’s website>>