Public Advocate fires up Ridge restaurant wars

Public Advocate fires up Ridge restaurant wars
The Brooklyn Paper / Julie Rosenberg

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio greased the wheels of his mayoral campaign by jumping on the bandwagon of brick-and-mortar businesses in their ongoing beef with food carts, claiming that street vendors are enjoying fruits they haven’t sowed.

“The fact is right now that the weight of regulation falls on our traditional businesses,” the mayoral hopeful said at a meeting of the Bay Ridge Democrats, echoing the sentiments of Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), and other restaurants and bars along Fifth Avenue, all of whom say that food carts have an unfair advantage over storefront enterprises under existing city health codes.

City agencies spring surprise inspections on food wagons and traditional restaurants alike, but only the latter is required to post inspection grades in their windows, disgruntled merchants claim.

Gentile proposed legislation in March to grade mobile vendors, and met earlier this month with Department of Small Business Services Deputy Commissioner Andrew Schwartz, demanding that the city turn Fifth Avenue around 86th Street into a food cart-free zone.

DeBlasio called for more regulation of the mobile kitchens to keep future problems like the cold war between Middle Eastern Halal Cart operator Sammy Kassen and Lone Star bar owner Tony Gentile — no relation to the councilman — from boiling over.

“We need to be careful in regards to where we allow food vendors to be placed,” DeBlasio said.

Critics of the Middle Eastern Halal Cart have been known to execute covert plans to displace Kassen’s gyro cart.

Back on March 22, Kassen’s cart was forced to relocated after two benches were mysteriously placed at his favorite hangout spot. No one ever copped to moving the benches, which remain bolted to the sidewalk.

The city will unveil its plan for Fifth Avenue and 86th Street in the next week.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/#!/WillBredderman