Archive for 'Street Vendor Issues'

NYT Magazine: The Food Truck Business Sucks

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.

Speaker Quinn Gives Hope to Street Vendors

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.

Mayor Mike Is Out to Bust Some Street Vendors

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…

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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.

Help Food Carts Lower Their $1000 Fines

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.

Mayor’s Fund Enlists Food Trucks to Feed Hard Hit Areas of NYC

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>>

The State of Mobile Food Vendors in Midtown Post Sandy

Many people are slowly making their way back to work today and most restaurants are back open, but you may notice less food trucks and carts on the street. And this time it’s not because of the NYPD. Many of the gourmet food trucks are continuing their effort of donating food to the hardest hit areas like Staten Island, Red Hook, and the Rockaways, thanks to the generous support of Jet Blue, the New York City Food Truck Association, and private donations. You can continue to donate money with their indiegogo campaign. These neighborhoods need Phil’s Steaks and Wafels & Dinges much more than we do right now.

But it’s not all feel good stories coming from the food truck world…

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Phil’s Steaks Declared A Terrorist Threat By The FDNY?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for food trucks… according to an article on Gizmodo yesterday, the NYC Fire Department has declared food trucks to be a legitimate terrorist threat. I mean while we’re at it, why don’t we ban all delivery trucks too. Couldn’t any of these be carrying lots of propane or drive through a building or wreak just as much havoc as a food truck? At best, singling out food trucks seems like just another attempt by the city to get food trucks off the street.  At worst, it kind of reeks of racism. Unsurprisingly they use incorrect facts to exaggerate the problem, claiming that there are 3100 food truck permits, when in fact there are 3100 total food vendor permits, and the majority of those are used on carts not trucks. The best part is their “internal use document” shows photos of trucks like Phil’s Steaks, Rickshaw Dumpling, and Kelvin Slush, as if these are the trucks they’re talking about.

Do we need to remind the FDNY that it was a Muslim street vendor who pointed out that car bomb to police a few years ago in Times Square?

777 Third Ave. Building to Open Loading Dock for Food Trucks

Crain’s New York first reported yesterday that the 777 Third Avenue Building at East 48th street will open its loading dock to food trucks starting this coming Monday, October 29. Thus far, the lineup is Eddie’s Pizza, Luke’s Lobster, Comme Ci Comme Ca, and Frites N Meats, and the loading dock will feature one food truck each day. Midtown Lunch is pleased to note that the realtors, Sage Realty Corp., see the food trucks as an amenity to the building, and will even install a food truck camera so it’s easier for Lunchers to duck out when lines are short. We hope this will kick off a trend in Midtown, leaving more parking space for food truck vendors and less cause to worry about parking tickets from the PoPo.

Mr. Softee Battles Heat Up This Year in Midtown

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Did you catch that article last week in the NYPost that uncovered the cut-throat (literally) business of finding a spot to park a soft serve ice cream truck? We’ve long known that aside from public property and the Parks Department, no vendor can actually own his or her spot. There is an unwritten “gentlemen’s agreement” that certain vendors have nurtured certain spots. There are thousands of street corners all across the city.

Ask the Street Vendor Project or the New York City Food Truck Association. When you start a mobile food business, you need to introduce yourself into the food truck community in a safe, gracious way instead of trying to push somebody else out of their spot. Disagreements still occur with trucks and cart owners who break that “vendor code.” We’ve seen the disputes on the street and more recently on Twitter.

But based on the Post article, fights over spots continue to occur and they are getting more and more violent.

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