Why It Sucks Being an NYC Food Vendor

NYC halal truck. Photo: Prayitno/Flickr Creative Commons
NYC halal truck. Photo: Prayitno/Flickr Creative Commons

Being a food vendor in New York City is a trade fraught with many issues. If you’re selling hotdogs, you might get ticketed an outrageous sum of money for parking your cart too close to a sidewalk. If you’re an immigrant selling any kind of food and you’re arrested for a minor violation, it’s possible that you might be deported.

These are the rules that  The Street Vendor Project, an endeavor produced in partnership with the Urban Justice Center, claim are affecting as many as 20,000 street vendors in New York City today.

“We reach out to vendors in the streets and storage garages and teach them about their legal rights and responsibilities. We hold meetings where we plan collective actions for getting our voices heard,” the Vendor Project’s website reads.

Among some of the more archaic challenges that affect New York’s street vendors is a law passed by the city in 1981, which stipulates that no more than 3,000 vendor permits can be issued at one time. This means that the majority of would-be vendors have to resort to long waiting periods and even to the black market, where measly permits can cost thousands of dollars.

All of this and more is outlined in a cute little video issued by the Vendor Project, which explains their advocacy in full. What they’re hoping to achieve is for New York City to lift the caps on how many vendor permits are issued annually, hence their hashtag, #LifttheCaps.

Watch the video below:

Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster 

[HT Grub Street]


  1. I should preface this by stating that I’m ignorant to Foodtruck laws in NYC, so what I may suggest might be a pipe dream.

    I work in Bk Army Terminal. Jacques Torres, Uncommon Goods, and several other companies including my own occupy space here. There is also NYU-Luthern Langone Hospital. Basically lots of people working here and there are no good food options. ZERO. There is tons of street space for food truck vendors and if they’re interested in making money, they need to come here ASAP. If I was a restauranteur, I’d considering finding a close space and opening up a store where you sell healthy, fresh food. It’s complete shit down here and we need your help. DEAR GOD HELP US! ::tears::


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