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Sh-WAR-ma! Ridge group seeks city ban on food vendors • Brooklyn Paper

Sh-WAR-ma! Ridge group seeks city ban on food vendors

Food for thought: Elyes Muileh, a food vendor on 86th Street in Bay Ridge, disapproves of a local proposal to completely ban guys like him from 86th Street, Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
The Brooklyn Paper / Bess Adler

Food fight!

At the request of Bay Ridge merchants and neighbors, Community Board 10 is pushing the city to ban street food carts from the bustling business district on 86th Street between Fourth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway, as well as Fourth and Fifth avenues between 84th and 88th streets.

Non-food venders are already barred from the busy commercial spines.

“It’s really becoming an issue for small businesses,” said CB10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who told The Brooklyn Paper that her office has been flooded with complaints about the meat and produce peddlers. “Our small mom and pop stores are now competing with these vendors on the corner — and the vendors don’t have the overhead that the merchants have.”

The board — which received no response from the city after issuing a similar request last year — scorned the halal and hot-dog sellers for odors, litter problem, and for operating “mini-restaurants” staffed with as many as two grillmasters in the carts and one waiter on the sidewalk.

Bay Ridge restaurateurs added that the real problem is competition.

“Nobody likes them because they are stealing our customers,” said Dogan Karakas, owner of the Brooklyn Kebab Factory at the corner of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue. “They sell the same kind of thing that we do — though ours is 100 percent better, but sometimes people just want something quick and they go to them.”

But Middle Eastern food vender Elyes Muileh said it’s the restaurants — and not his falafel sandwiches — that stink.

“We’ve got different food than [the restaurants] — and ours is better. It’s like they’re trying to take my job and send me home broke.”,” said Muileh, who operates a cart at the corner of 86th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Sidewalk peddling advocates claim that vendors aren’t the reason why Bay Ridge restaurants are suffering.

“They don’t have the same customers, they don’t have the same menus,” said Cheikh Fall, co-director of the Street Vendor Project. “It’s very easy to find a scapegoat.”

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