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Red Hook vendors break free of city rules with new ‘mercado’

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The Red Hook food vendors, still smarting from city rule changes two summers ago that transformed their open-air food stalls into a parking lot of noisy food trucks, will get around those rules by setting up their grills on a privately owned piece of land on Van Brunt Street later this month.

The open-air “Red Hook Mercado” will debut on May 15 between Coffey and Van Dyke streets and feature produce, Latino crafts and, most important, a return to the days when vendors had more interaction with their customers.

“We want this to resemble a small time mercado,” a place in traditional Latin American society to gather, socialize, and celebrate, said Cesar Fuentes, the executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park. “We want to have more of a connection with our customers.”

The mercado is a far cry from the predicament in which the vendors found themselves ensnared three years ago, when the city threatened their livelihood by requiring them to first compete against outside vending companies for the right to return to spots that they first set up in the 1970s.

Then the city rules forced vendors to buy expensive food trucks to replace the series of grills and tents that ringed the park’s soccer field. As a result, several vendors dropped out. The remaining vendors will begin their season on Saturday at Red Hook Park.

But at the mercado, the rules of selling food are akin to those at a flea market, which permits open-air food preparation.

Red Hook Mercado [410 Van Brunt St. at Coffey Street in Red Hook, (516) 965-0214], weekends beginning on May 15. For info, visit www.redhookmercado.com; Red Hook Vendors at Red Hook Park (Bay and Clinton streets), weekends beginning May 1.

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Reader Feedback

Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Que Viva La Raza!
April 30, 2010, 7:56 pm
Jade from park Slope says:
See, we do everything for these people and still they hate our country? Can someone tell me why? Por favor?

Will this be next to their drug and latina prostitue "mercado"? or is it a new development?
May 2, 2010, 5:15 am
Courtney from red hook says:
It's a new development, over by hook lattes and fine wines.
May 3, 2010, 8:57 am
Jeff from Red Hook says:
That's an incredibly rude and naive statement Jade. The Red Hook vendors are incredibly nice, there is no reason for you to state that they "hate our country". And they have many, many happy customers who would be upset if the vendors weren't allowed to sell in REd Hook. I live in the neighborhood and this is one of the best parts of the community, most people here agree. I guess you can stay in Park Slope and keep eating at Q-doba and La Tacquaria chains.
Aug. 21, 2010, 5:34 pm

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