The battle over Midtown lunch real estate continues today, with food carts expressing little sympathy for the larger food trucks that have been driven out of the neighborhood by cops suddenly enforcing an ancient Transportation Department regulation.
“We don’t like the trucks… They bother us,” said one West 50th St vendor, Magdy Shahin of King Tut Halal Food. “They come one or two days only and they kill the business for us," he added. Cart operators, selling your typical shawarma and dirty-water dogs, complain that the trucks are too big, therefore giving them and unfair advantage because they take up more space and offer more foods.
Last week, Midtown Lunch reported that even the trucks who had moved to a temporary safe haven in Midtown East after being driven out of the west side were getting the boot, quoting East Midtown Partnership President Rob Byrnes:
Without exaggeration, within the span of a few weeks this district went from having a few occasional food trucks to having two or three on many individual blocks...And that problem came with an increasing number of complaints, especially (but not exclusively) from brick-and-mortar restaurants that virtually disappeared when Winnebago-sized trucks pulled in front of their façade and not only underpriced them, but attracted crowds that made their sidewalks impassable. Not to mention smoke and odor complaints from other businesses and restaurants who had the privilege of hosting a food truck right outside their door.
There have been a few work-arounds to the food truck crackdown: some trucks are switching their operations to cart form, some are moving downtown, and others are setting up shop in the newly sanctioned private food truck lot in Long Island City. But it's still a rough world out there for a food truck—if you miss your favorite meals on wheels, sign The NYC Food Truck Association's petition to support food trucks now.