Public Comments Supporting Food Trucks in D.C. Suddenly Disappear

Food trucks in Washington D.C. are currently facing off against a new wave of regulations that may limit the time they can spend at certain spots and raise the penalties they can be subjected to. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs gave Washington residents a final chance to combat these new rules by submitting their thoughts online to be considered. However when the comments were reviewed, only about 200 people, businesses and groups submitted a response before the November 13th deadline.

Now the DC Food Truck Association is adding some controversy to this story by declaring that over 1,000 letters of support for food trucks were never received. Last year over 3,000 public comments were received in response to similar regulations, marking an unusual decline in this year’s recorded responses. The DCFTA submitted the comments through the automated letter-writing site, RulesThatWork.org, according to Executive Director Che Ruddell-Tabisola.

The NYCFTA is currently looking into what could have happened to the 1000+ emails that were never received, though if it was a problem on their end it would be too late for the responses to be accepted. As of the November 13th deadline, only 43 comments had been received from RulesThatWork.org.

No one had yet suggested that sabotage may have played a part in the missing votes, but the DCFTA suspects that the issues may have been caused by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ email systems.

“Because DCRA was receiving emails at one point and then apparently stopped, it leads me to wonder if there was a technical change on their end, such as some kind of system update, security update, a change in a spam filter or firewall setting, etc. It looks like the last day they posted comments from RulesThatWork.org was Nov. 10, so I’m wondering if there was a change then,” said Ruddell-Tabisola.

The DCRA is denying any wrongdoing in receiving the comments, checking through junk mail folders and affirming that they posted every single comment they received. DCFTA submitted its own 20-page response outlining its problems with each regulation and offering potential solutions to replace them. The Association responded this way after hearing that public comments do not actually sway any decisions that are made, no matter how many are received. The DCFTA then had to wait ten days before meeting with the Department of Transportation to clarify the language used in the regulations, delaying their ability to conduct necessary research.

The food truck industry has also been kept busy by Hurricane Sandy, assisting efforts in New York to mobilize the New York Food Truck Association which has partnered with the city to donate free meals to thousands of displaced residents. From the standpoint of the DCFTA they generated 1,000 public comments in only five days.

While the DCRA has not announced a timeframe for reviewing the comments they have received, they announced that is their IT team finds the missing comments in a junk folder somewhere they will be accepted and posted online.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Countdown to the 2012 Vendy Awards

The New York City Vendy Awards will be held tomorrow, September 15th at Governor’s Island. The Vendy Awards are an annual tasting and award ceremony for some of New York City’s best food trucks and carts. The event is sponsored by our friends at the Street Vendor Project and works to shed light on new and upcoming vendors, and raise awareness for the rights of small business owners.

This year the Vendy nominees will fall into several categories from last year, and one new one. The new category is called “Best in Market”, which acts to represent street vendors that sell their goods at street fairs and outdoor markets. This new breed of vendor tends to use locally sourced ingredients and classic techniques, and was heavily supported by the voting public during nominations this year.

Last year the Vendy’s created a new category called “Most Heroic Vendor” to support those that stood up for their community. This year the Most Heroic Vendor is Sammy Kasem, a halal food vendor in Bay Ridge Brooklyn who faced opposition from several brick-and-mortar restaurants. These restaurant owners tried kicking him out of his spot, nailing park benches down to keep his cart out, and threatened and harassed him. Instead of giving up Sammy has continued to fight for his right to make a living in this community.

In the other five categories a wide variety of known and more obscure trucks have been nominated. In the Best Dessert category, Coolhaus Ice Cream sandwiches and Andy’s Italian Ices have been nominated, both members of the New York City Food Truck Association, and well known throughout New York City. Coolhaus originates from California, and is homage to architectural design by using cookies and plenty of flavors of ice cream. Andy’s has the same idea with over 45 flavors of water and crème ices, as well as an espresso bar.

For Best Rookie Vendor our friends at Okadaman and Phil’s Steak’s were nominated, as well as Chinese Mirch, Morocho Peruvian Cuisine, and Cambodian Cusine Torsu. Okadaman is a Japanese food truck serving Osaka-style street food like their iconic Japanese pancake. Phil’s Steaks serves traditional Philly cheese steaks, and is always a huge hit at events.

In the new Best in Market category, Baby Got Back Ribs from the Smorgasborg Flea Market in Brooklyn was nominated, as well as Lumpia Shack. Baby Got Back Ribs uses a 21-seasoning flavoring to make their signature ribs. Lumpia serves Filipino-inspired spring rolls in Brooklyn, and aims to bring Filipino cuisine to the whole world.

In the main category, the Vendy Cup, six vendors have been nominated with a huge variety of tastes. Our friends at the Cinnamon Snail serve vegan food from their ornate burgundy-colored food truck; their Makers Mark donuts last year were a huge hit and took home the Vendy Award. Long-time vendor Uncle Gussy has also been nominated, a signature Greek food truck that keeps cooking all in the family.

We’re thrilled for all the vendors nominated for Vendy Award’s this year, and this event should provide each vendor with publicity and raise awareness for the service they provide to New Yorkers. Check in Monday to see a full recap of the day’s events.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Prospect Park Food Truck Rallies

One of the best things about summer in New York City is the multitude of outdoor events to choose from. Prospect Park Food Truck Rallies are recurring events that feature some of New York’s finest food trucks.

Food rallies will be held on the third Sunday of every month from 11am-5pm, beginning this April 15th, and continuing until October. These rallies are organized by the New York City Food Truck Association and the park itself, as a way to bring more people to Grand Army Plaza. Following the success of last year’s food truck rallies, the trucks participating will vary by month.

Eugene Patron, a park spokesman said “It was just so popular last time. There were huge lines, even on a cold, wet day, people were just really into it.”

Although the trucks pay a fee to attend the events, the fees go mostly toward clean-up and other administrative costs. The food truck rallies are not necessarily huge money makers, but they provide publicity and entertainment, featuring different bands each Sunday.

2012’s first Prospect Park Food Truck Rally will kick off this Sunday, at 11am.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

World Financial Center Food Truck Lot Opens Today!

After several weeks of planning and coordination between the NYC Food Truck Association and Brookfield Office Properties, The World Financial Center Food Truck Lot is officially opening this Monday, February 6th.

Up to five food trucks will park in the lot at one time, with 21 food trucks involved in the rotating schedule. The lot is located on North End Avenue and Vesey Street, just north of the Hudson River Yacht Harbor. The setup of this food truck lot will be very similar to the Long Island City Food Truck Lot, donated months ago by Rockrose Development. The lot will similarly be open from 11AM to 3PM, with a selection of savory food trucks, and at least one dessert truck to choose from.

This marks Manhattan’s first food truck hub since the lot on West 30th Street beneath the High Line was closed after summer, 2011. This lot will not be reopening, and with an increased police presence in Midtown, many food trucks have needed new locations to park at during the day.

“What all the food trucks are starved for is a safe place to vend, where they can be a part of the community,” said David Weber, founder of the New York City Food Truck Association. After a judge’s ruling in May reaffirmed an age old parking meter law, food trucks have had difficulty finding space to sell to their customers. Clashes with brick and mortar restaurants and the lot below the High Line closing just compounded these pressures.

In the meantime, Brookfield Properties has invited the food trucks into this space while it renovates the retail passageway immediately south of the Winter Garden. This section has been closed since November, and isn’t set to reopen until 2013.

You can see the rotating weekly schedule for the food trucks at The World Financial Center Lot here.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

NYC Food Trucks Feeling the Heat

From an outside perspective, food trucks seem to be thriving throughout the country, popping up in new cities and in greater numbers than ever before. However internally, the industry is seriously hurting from city restrictions on parking areas and clashes with brick and mortar restaurants, and in New York City the conflict has already caused several trucks to go out of business.

The Urban Oasis Traveling Organic Café was forced to close earlier this year, citing various pressures compounding on their truck. This is just one example of how much the ‘booming’ food truck industry has fallen this year. While food trucks sometimes complain about one another, brick and mortar restaurants often call the police when they feel food trucks have encroached upon their space and threatened their customer base. Since the parking rule that forbids food trucks from parking in metered spaces, the industry has been dealt its most serious blow. Most of the commercial districts throughout New York City have parking meters, forcing the majority of food trucks to relocate and lose their acquired customers.

This parking rule has been in existence for decades, but only this year a judge ruled that vending goods from metered spaces applies to food trucks as well. The rule began to be enforced in May, and since then the New York City Food Truck Association has seen the revenues of its members drop by as much as 70%. The 1—month old association has already shrunk from 31 to 28 operators, with approximately 30 other food trucks operating in the city.

The first trucks began serving New York City around 2007, founded by entrepreneurs hoping to eventually settle in brick and mortar restaurants. The trucks immediately gained huge followings, gaining recognition on Twitter and through Zagat surveys. The trucks were deemed new and cool through their fresh designs and undeniably tasty food, attracting more trucks to the streets in the following years.

While in 2010 there was an explosion of new trucks, including Eddie’s Pizza Truck, now the industry seems to be stagnating. According to Food Truck Association president and owner of Rickshaw Dumpling truck, David Weber, “There are plenty of people who are seriously questioning the viability of this business”.

However the food truck industry is not going down without a fight. The association hired a lobbying firm to ask city agencies to address parking issues and other barriers preventing food trucks from operating. According to the firm, a lot of progress has already been achieved in conversations with city agencies, and they are hoping to have a solution to these regulatory issues by the busy spring food truck season.

The Food Truck Association has already proposed that food trucks could pay two times the muni rate that everyone else pays, and truck could be limited to two per block. They have also proposed a trial network of food truck parking spots throughout the city. Earlier this year Rockrose Development opened a lot specifically designated for food trucks in Long Island City. The association is in talks with other real estate owners to create more lots similar to this one.

Most food trucks continue to do business in metered parking spaces, but they have still relocated to areas where police enforcement is more lax. These new areas are far less robust for food truck owners however, who have developed strong customer bases throughout midtown. Other trucks have found ways to branch out their businesses, pursuing catering opportunities and special events, or purchasing food carts where they can permanently park on the sidewalk and avoid ticketing. Some food trucks are even purchasing storefronts, which are beginning to look like more stable options compared to the mounting pressures on food trucks.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Long Island City Lot Opens for Beleaguered Food Trucks

The long-awaited food truck lot in Long Island City finally opened this Tuesday, August 9th. Food trucks that have been forced to relocate popular spots throughout New York City have already begun to seek out this refuge, hoping that a large congregation of trucks might attract New Yorkers to this new destination.

The lot itself it 11,000 square feet and privately owned by a company called Rockrose Development. The lot is open for lunch from 11AM until 3PM, attracting all kinds of visitors to its daily trucks. The lot can hold sixteen trucks at a time, and is being monitored by the New York City Food Truck Association to ensure equity. The Association is trying to rotate as many trucks in as possible; however trucks pay the corporation a fee to use the lot during the day. On opening day, the Desi Food Truck, the Rickshaw Truck, Cupcake Stop and others came to the lot. Korilla BBQ, Red Hook Lobster and other trucks arrived the second day. The Long Island Food Truck Lot is on Twitter as well, and you can follow here.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com