The war for Fifth Avenue

City mulls over fate of Fifth Ave. food carts

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city’s Department of Small Business Services has been pulled into the ongoing turf war between Fifth Avenue merchants and food cart vendors — and are poised to make a decision that could boot vendors from the intersection for good.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) held a long-demanded meeting with the city agency last week, just a few days after the Save Our Streets campaign created by vendor-hating merchants displaced a controversial gyro cart from Fifth Avenue for two days at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street.

During the discussion, Gentile asked Department of Small Business staffers to reconvene the Food Vendor Review panel and enact a pilot program where the city can create vendor-free zones at certain intersections.

Small Business Services Deputy Commissioner Andrew Schwartz left the meeting promising to come up with a concrete plan for 86th Street and Fifth Avenue within the next two weeks. The agency could turn the intersection — and the streets surrounding it — into a vendor free zone, sending the Middle Eastern Halal Cart and other food vendors packing.

Calls to Sammy Kassen, the manager of the Middle Eastern Halal Cart, were not returned.

Councilman Gentile blasted the existing city regulations on food carts, claiming that they often contradict one another.

“The city needs to enact clearer guidelines when it comes to sharing our streets with mobile food vendors,” he said.

Save Our Streets founder Tony Gentile, the owner of the Lone Star bar on Fifth Avenue — who is not related to the Councilman — said the sit down with Deputy Commissioner Schwartz was a victory for his campaign.

“I think they will come back in favor,” the bar owner said. “But the only way this is going to end is if these restaurants on wheels are out of 86th Street.”

Tony Gentile said that his campaign already has “a backup plan in motion” if the Department of Small Business Services doesn’t take action against the food carts, but declined to elaborate on just what he has in mind.

Critics of the Middle Eastern Halal Cart have been known to execute covert plans to displace the gyro cart — and ruin Kassen’s day.

Back on March 22, Kassen’s cart was forced to relocate after two benches were mysteriously placed at his favorite hangout spot. No one has copped to moving the benches, which remain bolted to the sidewalk.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at!/WillBredderman
Updated 5:33 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

tony gentile from bar ridge says:
come eat my greasy burgers, cause my customers are drinking here and going out to sammy's cart for food instead of buying my food. i don't want my drunk customers to have choices!!!!
May 10, 2012, 6:01 am
Jay from pslope says:
wow talk about abuse of office, I will be donating cash to whoever runs against Vincent Gentile for office. This is just straight up thugism.
May 10, 2012, 9:12 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The only reason why Gentile supports the merchants is probably because they will endorse him, otherwise he will think that they are nothing but a bunch of nut jobs.
May 10, 2012, 6:01 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
get rid of the carts. what taxes do they pay and contribute to the city's tax base? do the vendors pay taxes other than a $200 permit fee? the city taxes the small businessman to death and then they allow the business to be poached by non tax paying street vendors. the merchants pay the taxes to support the city services and social services that the city gives away. where does this money come from? the tax fairy? no it comes from the merchants who are stuck with paying every tax the city can come up with.

Tal..bring the vendors to your neighborhood if you think it's such a good idea. your neighbors will love you.
May 10, 2012, 8:58 pm
jay from pslope says:
al pankin food cart vendors do pay taxes. And as for the city services that are "given away", guess what, everyone helps pay for those taxes, not just craphole bars like the Lonestar. What ,you think they should get a medal because they pay taxes as required by law? You think that makes them special?
While we are at it, Lonestar actually probably lowers property values in that neighborhood because of the crime, fights, noise, vomiting, parking issues, and public urination that takes place. Lonestar is taking way more out of the community than it is giving.
Sorry if the food carts are costing a restaurant business, but this is America and if someone can do it better and cheaper in a legal way, then that is the way it goes. We don't live in France, but it seems you would be happier there so I invite you to move there.
If this cart was so bad then no one would go to it and the owner would go out of business, but people clearly like it, but for some reason you, the Lonestar owner, and town council member Vincent Gentile think they have the right to decide where people can buy their lunch from.
The food carts are a lawful business and if people want to go and buy from them, then they can, and there is not jack you can do about it except make your own restaurant better.
This is NOT the Soviet Union where less efficient business models are protected and promoted, you, Lonestar and this town council person Vincent Gentile should be ashamed of themselves for trying to turn Brooklyn in to commie land, and trying to use the power of law to do so. THIS is an outrage.
May 11, 2012, Noon
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, I wouldn't mind these vendors in my area. As a matter of fact, they would really help those that are on the run or don't have a lot of money on them. Still, I am tired of hearing from the merchants that they are the problem to the neighborhood when they are really just using them as their own personal scapegoats. I betcha even if they left, the neighborhood would still be seen as a bad area. They only have themselves to blame for their problems, but they will look to whatever they can to avoid it. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if these merchants probably owe a lot in back taxes, so maybe we should have the IRS open the books on them. Nevertheless, if you guys are really for the merchants there, then show your support by going to them more often, otherwise you are all bark and no bite.
May 11, 2012, 4:36 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
the carts are allowed by law- why dont the two fat ladies put their books in the open and prove all are paying taxes and all 100 pct legal - think the fat ladies will - i didnt either
May 11, 2012, 10:27 pm
Reality Check from Bay Ridge says:
al pankin ... how are two falafel vendors at 86 and 5 disrupting the whole Bay Ridge "neighborhood"? Do you really mean "my or my business's block"? Personally I wouldn't want to live near a loud bar that produced drunks until 4 am (and THEN complained that a halal vendor, who doesn't sell or drink alcohol, attracts drunks!).
May 12, 2012, 2:01 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Al, here is the difference between bars and food vendors. The food vendors are only there during the day, while the bars are there all the time. Still, the merchants only have themselves to blame for doing so bad, not others especially the vendors.
May 12, 2012, 4:05 pm
Old time brooklyn from Slope says:
silence from the fat ladies!!! 0 what a shock - I will be in Bedrock mm Bayridge soon and will make a points of getting grub from sammy and takinging a leak in the fat ladies place = and maybe a rim shot
May 12, 2012, 5:22 pm
Jim from BR from Bayruite says:
First off I wouldn't eat from at any Food cart!
Where do they go to the restroom? How often
do they wash their hands? Do they have proper
refrigeration? 2nd I think it's fair to store owners
Or renters that have high expenses. Maybe everyone
should operate out of a cart. Hey century 21,
McDonalds, starbucks, get a cart! HeHe
June 15, 2012, 5:47 pm
Jim from BR from Bayruite says:
Sorry! I ment NOT fair. For above post.
June 15, 2012, 5:49 pm

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