Today’s news:

Hook vendors end season quietly

for The Brooklyn Paper

Diehard fans of tacos, huaraches and papusas flocked to Red Hook last weekend to get a taste of history and, in between mouthfuls, wonder whether the Latin-American vendors who have sold their tasty fare for three decades will be allowed to return next year.

As the Parks Department announced earlier this summer, starting next year, the vendors will have to bid against other food purveyors for the right to reopen their stands in April — the first time they have had outside competition for the once-forlorn, now tourist-friendly, site.

“It’d be devastating if the vendors weren’t allowed back at Red Hook,” said Katie Kirk, a vendor fan. “Why ruin a good thing?”

Others were worried about the possible end of an era.

“Anyone who has ever eaten a hot dog in Central Park knows it would be a great cultural and gastronomical loss if they’re not allowed back,” said Nicholas Pecsok.

The city threw the vendors’ future into question when it announced in June that it wanted to formalize the permitting process at the ballfields, which are at Bay Street between Henry and Clinton streets. Instead of re-issuing a temporary permit, for which the 13 vendors pay $10,000 per season, the city raised the specter of a winner-take-all process by suddenly deciding to open the permits to outside bidders.

The prospect of losing their permits was only one thing the venders had to deal with this summer. After the Parks Department announced the open-bidding process, the Health Department started inspecting — supporters say harassing — the vendors more frequently.

But along the way, the vendors became a cause célèbre for everyone from Sen. Charles “Chimichanga Chuck” Schumer to gourmands who didn’t want to see authentic Latino cuisine replaced by the kind of generic frankfurter and pretzel stands that ring most city parks.

“All the prominence that the food vendors were given this year definitely helps,” said Cesar Fuentes, who represents the vendors (and was once one himself). “But we don’t know if we’re going to be back.”

The vendors’ return isn’t certain, but the Parks Department succumbed to pressure earlier this year when it said it would give the vendors “preference” in the application process that begins this month.

“We certainly appreciate all that they have done for the community and we would like to see them return,” said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson.

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Sweetheart says:
Long live the Red Hook food vendors!! Great article. We need more awareness.
Oct. 26, 2007, 11:42 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.