A Bay Ridge business group is going after the only food cart on Fifth Avenue.
Nagi Hassan has been selling halal food at the corner of Fifth and Ovington avenues from his legal cart for about a year, but members of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District want to see him gone, because he’s competing with local Mom-and-Pops.
“One restaurant went out of business because he couldn’t compete,” said Jim Clark, the president of the BID.
Clark explained to Community Board 10’s Environmental Committee that storefronts have to pay rent, utilities and the BID fee, while mobile vendors only have to pay for their city license and the food they sell.
Clark added Hassan’s cart drips grease onto the sidewalk and his customers leave trash on the corner, leaving it is up to business owner to clean up after him.
“Every morning I see the landlord sweeping,” he said. “With the grease on the sidewalk, he’s really being slapped in the face because he has no say.”
Peter Agrapides, who owns the building nearest to where Hassan sets up shop, was also unhappy with the vendor.
“It’s very frustrating that the city doesn’t do anything about it,” he said.
Food vendors are regulated by the city’s Department of Health, which requires that they be at least 20 feet from the entrance of a building, on a sidewalk that is at least 12 feet wide, and at least 10 feet from the crosswalk, next to the curb.
Food carts vendors are not required to sweep the sidewalk around their carts, but do have to clean up any drippings they might produce.
“The property owner is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the sidewalk,” said Department of Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins.
The issue is a neighborhood-wide one, said Josephine Beckmann, CB10’s district manager.
“The overwhelming sentiment from shops on the strips is that food vendors really have an impact on small businesses in the outer boroughs,” she said.
But, the vendors too are trying to survive, said Richard Giallanzo, who was ordering food from Hassan’s cart last Friday.
“He’s trying to earn a living, too,” Giallanzo said. “That’s it.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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