Hunger pain: Local eateries say problems for deliverymen at Fort Hamilton Army Base are nothing new

Hunger pain: Local eateries say problems for deliverymen at Fort Hamilton Army Base are nothing new
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s a tough spot to make a delivery.

The guards at Fort Hamilton Army Base routinely give a tough time to deliverymen — especially those who are non-White — alleged workers at local eateries that frequently make deliveries to the base, where the federal government detained an undocumented pizza deliveryman on June 1.

A waitress at Campania, a pizzeria at Fourth Avenue and 99th Street, said their Arab deliverymen hate going to the base for daily deliveries because they feel targeted by the guards.

“They always give the delivery guys a problem — it’s the same kids who deliver every day, but they still give them a hard time,” said Brittany Ryan. “Mostly they do it to the Arab kids, and most of them don’t like to go to the base because of that.”

Ryan said the guards at the base search the deliverymen and their cars exhaustively — even though the guards know the same few deliverymen who make the routine visits.

“They stop them, they search their cars, they make them step out — even though they deliver every day,” she said. “It’s bull—-. They get a $1, $2 tip. It’s not even worth it half the time.”

But the eatery can’t refuse to deliver to the base, Ryan said, because they rely on their large — and frequent — catering orders.

“We can’t [stop delivering] — they do a lot of catering,” she said.

A worker at Molto Bene, a pizzeria at Fourth Avenue and 96th Street, said the guards’ stringent searches of their deliverymen stretched back years, when the guards began cracking down on visitors following the 9-11 attacks in 2001 — even though the restaurant also always sends the same deliveryman to the base, which the worker said should streamline the entry process.

“They give us a hard time,” said Antonio Carrillo. “Since 9-11 it’s more strict, but most of the time it’s the same person.”

The spokeswoman from the base did not answer inquiries by press time about the protocol for receiving deliveries there, how that protocol has changed since 2001, and whether or not the guards receive any anti-bias training.

Spokeswoman Cathy Santo Pietro previously said in a statement that the deliveryman — Pablo Villavicencio Calderon, from Nonna Delia’s pizzeria in Queens — lacked the proper identification required for entry, and that he had to sign a waiver allowing the background check required to receive a one-day pass, at which point base personnel discovered an active warrant on file from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, to which they turned him over.

But Calderon later told the New York Post that he never signed the waiver allowing for the background check.

The owner of Mike’s Deli, on Fourth Avenue between 95th and 96th streets, said his longtime practice has been to have customers on the base meet his deliverymen at the entry gate, so they don’t have to deal with the guards and their exhaustive search process.

“We tell them to meet us at the gate to avoid problems like this,” said George Loparnos. “We’ll still send people — as long as they meet us at the gate.”

A worker at Espresso Pizzeria, on Fifth Avenue between 94th and 95th streets, said he would also only continue delivering pies to the base if his deliverymen could hand them over off of the federal property.

“I’d send them to the gate — but that’s it,” said John, who declined to give his last name.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcsh[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.