Food Carts Fighting for Prime Brooklyn Real Estate

By: Michael Engle

It is often stated that the three most important factors of real estate are as follows: location, location, and location.  In the case of three competing Brooklyn food carts, their recent forced relocations have not only impacted their bottom lines, but their customers' daily routines as well. Longtime vendors Ikram Hussan and Matthew Ninos blame a third cart owner for recent struggles, which have been largely attributed to the geographic reshuffling.  Simone Weichselbaum recently covered this saga for the New York Daily News.  While Hussan and Ninos would claim that their mandated moves were heavy-handed, they highlight continued prejudices against food trucks.

Food trucks are a staple of New York City culture, and while most debates regarding food carts have been between them and brick-and-mortar restaurants, it's curious to see food carts fighting among themselves.  Problems arose for Hussan and Ninos when the arrival of a third competitor, Al Madina Falafel Truck,  caused the expulsion of all three carts from their location.

In order to prevent a state of cart-induced chaos, as well as to promote basic pedestrian safety and to maintain good traffic flow, food trucks face certain restrictions.  For instance, food trucks are not allowed within ten feet of subway entrances, subway elevators, or crosswalks. Hussan and Ninos have had a long track record of business success, owing to their strategic location near Woodhull Hospital and were thus highly dependent on their exact locations within their particular street corner. Al Madina was cited for its illegal location, as it was too close to a subway elevator.  Though they both implored Al Madina to obey city ordinances by moving away from the elevator, Al Madina ignored their advice.  The resulting congestion yielded a large crowd, which caught the attention of local executives, and then of the fire department-which finally ordered all three owners to move their carts.

Hussan and Ninos are currently building a petition in order to hopefully reclaim their former territory near the hospital.  With more than 200 signatures, it is clear that they have a loyal customer base that feels equally inconvenienced by the moves.  Whether they may eventually be permitted to move back, and whether they can convince their perceived "third wheel" to find a new and legal space, remains to be seen.

Photo: LOLren 

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