Food Trucks Being Chased From Midtown Over Meter Rule

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Do you love getting lunch from a motorized eatery on four wheels? Well, you may need to start dining elsewhere.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On West 46th Street

The city has initiated a crackdown on vendors — much to the displeasure of office workers, tourists and others.

In the last week and a half, Treats Truck, which has sold desserts for four years, and Rickshaw Dumpling, its neighbor on 45th and Sixth Avenue for the last three years, have been told by police to pull up stakes. At least half a dozen other culinary vehicles parked several blocks north have also been asked to move.

The new sweep will not only impact Manhattan but other boroughs as well.

The increased police activity is apparently the result of a court ruling last month which reinforced a DOT regulation, believed to be 50 years old, that states vendors can’t park a vehicle at a metered parking space in order to sell merchandise.

Frankie Cupcake, owner of the Cupcake Crew food truck, says the ruling has left him “speechless.”

trucks 002 Food Trucks Being Chased From Midtown Over Meter Rule

Frankie Cupcake, owner of the Cupcake Crew (credit: Carly Sitzer/CBS New York)

“We built up these trucks, they’re very costly, a lot of effort, a lot of time, a lot of money into them,” he said. “We’ve done the research to find good spots where we can make a lot of money and then we’re told something different when we arrive there by the NYPD. We’re aware they are just doing their job,  but what happened is one truck gave us all a bad name.”

RELATED: CBSNewYork – NYC’s Best Food Trucks

Frankie says the recently-enforced rule was upheld in a court case, and the NYPD confirms they are issuing warnings against food trucks such as O’Neill Reid’s Jamaican Dutchy.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here for. You know, it’s really crazy. We really need some help,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane on Wednesday.

“Had you ever heard of this rule about metered spaces?” asked Murnane.

“No. We never heard of it,” answered Reid.

The coffee cart vendors, like Tony Diaz up on the sidewalk just a few inches away, say they feel for the truckers.

“They spend a lot of money to make from the trucks. I don’t have trucks, so I don’t have no problem,” he says.

One fan of truck food says there’s room for compromise: “If they feed the meter, then they should be able to park. That’s what the space is for.”

trucks 005 Food Trucks Being Chased From Midtown Over Meter Rule

Dennis Kum, owner of Big D's Grub food truck (credit: Carly Sitzer/CBS New York)

Dennis Kum, owner of Big D’s Grub food truck, also offered a solution.

“They should do a law that says you cannot vend from a metered parking spot for more than three hours,” Kum explained. “And if we’re there for more than three hours, give us another ticket. But to shut down a business? We’re employing several people, we invested a lot of money into this, and it’s just not fair.”

To come up with a more fair solution, the mayor’s office says it’s looking for spaces for these popular lunch options.

What do you think of the rule? Let us know below…

More from Paul Murnane
  • Meme Meyagi

    maybe someone should sue the city over illegal meters on the streets. after all, these are public streets

  • Todd

    The Real problem is the HALAL cart vendors on the SIDEWALKS! They stink up the street with their smokey grills, leave garbage all over the pace, leak fluids onto the street and most egregiously, have generators and wires hanging out from the backs of their carts – sometimes with fuel containers in plain view – hazards all over the place. The City could care less. I recommend you take pictures of the Halal Cart on your street and send to 311 complaints. The Street Truck vendors are much more better quality food, rarely leave a mess and definitely don’t stink up the street with smoke and grease.

    • Greg

      I agree, as a restaurant owner I do not understand how the city let’s these mobile food vendors which are disgusting continue to do business. When the health department comes to inspect my place they are very thorough and precise with what they look for, if my soup is one degree off I get slapped with a fine but the halal guy on my corner has fifty pounds of raw chicken in a non refrigerated drawer and does not get penalized. I can write for hours about this topic but I hope that the city will decide to do something about this growing problem.

      • bamr

        I agree. The smells are disgusting. I find it very difficult to believe that this food is safe and clean. Where are the sinks? Where is the “safe handling” ?? And, when I pass by these carts, I smell like I have just been in a fire; it is disgusting. And in the summer especially, in the heat, with all the extra heat that is generated from these carts, I cannot understand how this disgusting situation just continues in our great city.

  • M. Berman

    Lastly, being an avid supporter of the food truck movement…and the family member of a ‘cart vendor’, who has worked the streets of NYC since before most of you were born, I can’t wait to try the two food trucks mentioned in the article above…and to spend my money on the food trucks in NYC…I know that I am not alone in this either!

    • PCC

      I have eaten many times from Big D’s Grub Truck. The food is very good!

  • M. Berman

    Oh, and the mobile food vendors pay sales taxes too…to the woman above who doesn’t know what she is talking about. Food trucks are not draining the City of any money! I can give you a list of what is draining the City of revenue. Ignorance is so frustrating!

  • DaleAuburn

    I understand your point – I would put far more trust in a Certificate of Kashrut than in a Health Department letter grade.

    At the same time, it’s unfair to demand that all food trucks be certified kosher because many customers want certain foods (e.g. pork, shellfish, cheese steaks) that can never meet kosher standards. Even though I might not eat a particular product, should I deny others the ability to buy and eat it what they want? Clearly not. I’d rather let market forces prevail (subject to the basic principles of food safety, of course)

  • JustSaying

    Can anyone tell me what is so great about living/working in the city?? As an outsider, all I see is congestion, rude people who sound like they’re talking through their noses, pollution, high prices for anything/everything, high crime rates, noise, etc. I cannot see ANY reason to visit NYC let alone live there! How can you be proud of something like that?

    • PCC

      What exactly does your message have to do with food trucks?

      • JustSaying

        More than one other poster commented on higher costs, higher crime rates, increased noise as well as the aspect of tourism in NYC so I am commenting on my observations as a outsider. Get it now?

    • KPMc

      It’s ok… some people will never get it. Some can never make it here. If you are happy where you are why waste your effort trying to figure out something you can’t comprehend.

      Now go visit CBS – Podunk or wherever you call home and leave the grownups alone.

      • JustSaying

        Podunk ain’t so bad…low crime, low cost of living, low taxes, good schools AND we don’t have gay marriage! Grownups? I guess we’d have a different word for you big city folks here in Podunk! Glad you enjoy your cesspool.

  • JR

    Another fine example of Government trampling over small businesses! Our own Government is driving and killing US businesses!

    • Dale Auburn

      Are you really so opposed to the idea of OBEYING THE LAW that enforcement is now “trampling”?

  • American

    And I thought this is a free market capitalist country….

  • judyg

    Some agreement should be made between the restuarants and the food trucks. it’s a very fast and much cheaper way for workers to get tasty fun food for lunch. if its midtown, there are office workers everywhere, so removing them from the highest rent area is only fair. and, charge the trucks what a reasonable person would assume high traffic areas would command.
    some things just don’t work out if you don’t have the money. after all, the cart clothes and handbags people don’t set up in front of saks.
    restuarants, bodegas and the like cost workers at least double $$ than lunch from a truck. it’s too bad for the workers. after all, we’re only earning what we got paid in the 1970’s. often, less.

    • KPMc

      You’re still earning what you got paid in the 70’s? C’mon really? Or are you just exaggerating to make a point.

      We all know times are tough but making a statement like that doesn’t help anyone. It just misleads people and distorts the facts.

      Unless of course you got paid VERY well in the 70’s and it is just now evening out.

  • Dale Auburn

    “The increased police activity is apparently the result of a court ruling last month which reinforced a DOT regulation, believed to be 50 years old, that states vendors can’t park a vehicle at a metered parking space in order to sell merchandise.”

    There you go. Just FOLLOW THE RULES and you’ll be fine.

  • Wolf

    Street and Sidewalk vendors totally ignor rules and laws. What about three sinks? Running water? And not set up within X number of feet of a building entrance? Imagine what the rent cost is to have a small restaurant or coffee shop anywhere in Manhattan let alone Midtown. And how many of these food vendors get ratings from the health department? If they have to follow the same rules as restaurants, which they should, they will all fail the grade. Get rid of the food trucks. The restaurants will get more business and will be able to bring their prices back down to reality.

    • Nagc

      The mobile trucks get health inspections all the time by under-cover health inspectors. They approach trucks and board. They also must have hand washing stations. Learn before you throw out random statements. What makes a restaurant any better than a mobile truck? Why is NYC the only city that deems this as a big issue, when places like Austin and Portland embrace it and everyone has no issues?

      • Greg

        You’re an idiot, mobile food vendors are no where near as clean as NYC restaurants are today. Mobile food vendors should be charged rent for using city property and also should be heavily scrutinized by the city health department.

  • NL Cohen, New York City

    I think the real reason behind the sudden crackdown on food trucks is that restaurant owners complained to their local politicians, and police officials for help in eliminating their food truck competitor’s.

    On one hand, I can sympathize with the store owner’s. They pay huge rents, huge insurance premiums, rake-up lots of summons for all kinds of infractions from litter in front of their store – to the size of lettering on their awnings – and everything in between.

    However, food truck operator’s also have a right to earn a living. They bring an interesting, and tasty alternative to our city streets. Why can’t the city offer them a special parking permit for say $600 – $800. per month, and let the public decide what they want to eat. That way, both sides win.

    If the city forces the food truck operators out of business, what will that accomplish – more people out of work? At election time, our politicians are always telling us what their doing to create more jobs, jobs, jobs. And boasting about how resourceful the “American Worker” is in creating new business opportunities for themselves. Well, here’s a good example of that resourcefulness. And now, these very same elected officials want to take that away from these people? That’s shameful!

    • RichieT

      It’s costing money for the restaurants and coffee shops. They pay rent, gas and electric .It;s not cheap in Manhattan. How about insurance? They have to have insurance. What happens if a person get sick because of a problem with the food they serve from the trucks. Do they have insurance? What about the people that drive into Manhattan and want to go into the stores and spend money. They have no-place to park. They’re costing every legitimate business in the area money, and only have to pay for parking spaces????????????? Shut them down.

      • Midtown Luncher


        They are only cracking down food trucks, but not food carts. Food truck owners often buy a permit from the permit owner at market rate. The food truck itself cost $30-50k depending on the equipments needed. I don’t know any store or deli get forced out of business by food trucks. Brick and Mortar like Five Guys Burger, Chipotle still does well with all the trucks around. Why can’t the rest of the restaurants? Isn’t this a free-capitalist market?

      • M. Berman

        Yes, they have insurance, are you stupid? Of course, on must have insurance on any business. What happens if a person gets sick from a restaurant? Same thing. And, we pay electric and gas in our own rented commercial kitchen spaces! The food truck takes up one parking spot, as does a car. So, just like anyone else who drives into the City and can’t find a spot because a car is parked there, put it in a lot…more money for a business. And, if you read my comments below, we are paying much more than simply ‘parking spots.’ And, they are not costing ‘legitimate’ businesses anything…capitalism…this is what America is built on…LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE WHERE THEY WANT TO EAT…serve better food and people will frequent your food establishment. Food trucks pose no threat but friendly competition…if I want to sit down and enjoy a meal, I am going to go to a restaurant…if I want something quick and delicious I may or may not go to a food truck… get over it…

    • Dale Auburn

      “If the city forces the food truck operators out of business….”

      It’s not about forcing people out of business. It’s about ENFORCING LAWS. Why are some people so hostile to the idea of operating legally???

    • Ludakris

      NL Cohen – well-said. I agree!

      It would be nice if the police could be as zealous, in going after FRESH-DIRECT delivery trucks – that park in the middle of the streets for hours-on-end – banging their equipment, while their nitwit delivery people make annoying “whistling” sounds early on Saturday mornings.


  • Big Nard

    Tax all those trucks and charge them rent. Well, if you like street dust up in your food enjoy people.

  • Robert

    Before these folks invested money, they should’ve hired Lawyers and made sure it was legal.

  • JasonS


  • harriet

    Are you insane or just a troll? nevermind I don’t care but please enough with the all caps.

  • William Oscar Hand

    If they are anything like the trucks in Los Angeles, half of them are fronts for drug dealers. These people are trying to move into Savannah Georgia with their bogus businesses, and I have objected to it being allowed here as well.

    • harriet

      Really, no one asked you, why are you posting on a local newsite about a local issue? go away with your conspriacy theories.

  • PCC

    Mayor Bloomberg is going to find an appropriate place for the food trucks? The appropriate place is where working NYers can access them and not some artificially created space that only benefits tourists like what he turned Time Square into. I’m sure he’ll find a way to charge fees or tax them into oblivion, too.

    • harriet

      ah, yeah lets get on the mayor for everything. BTW, the newer lunch trucks are too expensive for regular workers, its not like they sell $5 street chicken over rice, it’s practically tourist bait already.



    • harriet

      generates tax dollars? really, they are cash only businesses, there’s no way they actually declare their real incomes. plus the trucks munch services, unlike businesses that pay rent which includes taxes to the city to provide services i.e. fire and police.

      • M. Berman

        MOBILE FOOD TRUCKS PAY RENT!! AND TAXES!! Nearly EVERY RESTAURANT we eat in is CASH ONLY, so what about that? What services? Fire and police? We have too many cops on the street doing nothing all day anyway…and your lovely mayor trying to close all the firehouses anyway…We pay quarterly taxes my man…and no way around it…and we take credit cards my man…

    • M. Berman

      We concur…finally someone with a brain! I have witnessed with my own two eyes the way the cops speak to and treat the food vendors. It is appalling and probably illegal…but we all know the NYPD gets away with anything. And yes, everyday we read of shootings, drug dealers, robberies, rapes,…,much more real crime going on then a mobile food truck ‘illegally’ parked!

  • Jim

    Instead of harassing these self-made businesses, perhaps Bloomberg should focus on fixing our pot-holed streetsl. Bloomberg should be recalled as he is rarely focused on the important issues of this city: i.e., gay marriage was the most important thing on his mind for weeks as he waived his check book to get the needed votes – in Illinois that would be called a bribe, was out of town during the blizzard, is out to lunch while his incompetent friend runs the transportation dept – bike lanes, closing off half of Broadway & 7th Ave, Cathy Black pretending to be an educator, etc., and asleep at the wheel while the Dept of Buildings Inspector take bribes for issuing permits for illegal work and to look the other way with building violations, asleep at the wheel while cops fix tickets, alseep at the wheel while ECB judges find everyone guilty and guilty, asleep at the wheel, asleep and asleep.

    • KPMc

      Bloomberg had little to do with the marriage bill. That was STATE business and was pushed by Governor Cuomo. Check waving had nothing to do with it.

      Why does it have to be one thing over another? Can’t we enforce the laws pertaining to the trucks AND do other pressing city business?

      I’m not the Mayor’s biggest fan but you numbskulls looking to blame him for everything are just ridiculous.

  • Scott

    Let’s start cleaning up these food carts that litter the sidewalks and make it difficult to walk by sometimes, is the need for food sooo great? Let’s start cleaning up the sidewalks first.

    • bamr

      Absolutely agree! There are carts at 34th Street at the Entrance to Penn Station and on 7th Avenue across from Penn Station- the congestion is terrible. Sometimes you cannot cross the street, you cannot walk by, and this is ridiculous at rush hour when commuters are trying to leave the city. This is not necessary and I cannot believe that this continues. And, the smell is disgusting. No matter how far away I try to walk, I still smell like I have been through a fire. There is nothing appetizing about those smells and I find it hard to believe that those carts can be clean- where are the sinks? Please!?! Give me a break…

  • nygrump

    I love the guy waah “We’ve done research to find the best spot” waah ITS MIDTOWN – EVERY SPOT IS PRIME. Where does it end? Is it ok for EVERY parking spot to betaken up by food vendors? where do they go to the bathroom? Probably in the businesses that pay rent and taxes and fees. They shouldn’t be allowed to hog parking spaces.

    • harriet

      ok, for the bathroom questioners, i take it that you never really seen a food truck, see they have more than one person, so one can take a break and use a public restroom. With the carts, they buddy up and watch each other’s carts when they need to relieve themselves or they lock up the cart, really are you in the second grade?

    • Daphne

      Um… it’s NYC? Leave your car at home! Viva la Food Trucks!!

      • EricG

        Daphne, You dont know how long it takes to wait for a train at 11-12 at night

      • KPMc

        Eric G.

        On my line it is no more than 20 minutes at the time of night, and that’s if you JUST missed one.

        And what does traveling at that time of night have to do with parking spots taken up during the day by the trucks?

        While I agree that the trucks are hogging spots for legitimate parkers it is evident that reading comprehension isn’t your strong point.

  • Bruce Lee

    Dave R and Caribny,
    when your daughter one day decides to sell lemonade on the sidewalk, i’m sure you’re going charge her rent for using the sidewalk. better yet, how would you feel if the govenment asked her to pay taxes and rent for that sidewalk?

  • Anonymous

    Good to know Mayor Mike is on the ball. The finical wizard strikes again and gets more people out of work. Atta-boy Mike. You know how did you get so rich? How did you get this money did you pull a Madoff scandal and just never got caught, since that poor a$% friend of yours Koch was mayor at the time of your wealth and the city was so corrupt.
    You are running the other Mayors hard work, Crime is backup, Noise is backup and no snow removal and you stand in the sands of a golf course in the Bahamas saying nothing is wrong.
    Please leave the office fast.

    • KPMc

      Carts/Trucks employ one, maybe two people. Restaurants employ cooks, waiters, busboys and hosts.

      Which scenario is taking away from legitimate jobs? Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute for your brain to stop smoking as you try to think.

  • Bruce Lee

    The issue isn’t rent. the issue is taxes and how does Bloomberg and the government get their money. In America, if you’re making money and the government isn’t….you’ll be shut down till they figure out how they get their “piece of the pie.” It’s that simple.

  • caribny

    I agree with the law, other establishments have to pay high taxes and rent to operate in the city, AlsoI dont buy food from trucksl it’s unsanitary. There are no bathrooms and sinks for them to wash their hands. Do they pee in empty containers? just wondering!

    • Klien

      no, they go to brick and morter, but thanks for the suggestion..,how does it work out for you?

    • Jimmy

      Yeah, and where do these trucks and carts go at night? They probably pull them into someplace with who knows what crawling all over.

    • M. Berman

      What are you talking about?! Food trucks must have handwashing sinks you fool. As far as bathrooms, oftentimes, stores allow them to use the restroom. The DOHM is constantly boarding and inspecting all food trucks, which are oftentimes much cleaner than the nasty kitchens in your restaurants. FYI, many of your fancy NYC restaurants have been issued numerous summons for unhygienic, dirty kitchens…you do the research.

  • Observer

    “’Had you ever heard of this rule about metered spaces?’asked Murnane. ‘No. We never heard of it,’ answered Reid…One fan of truck food says there’s room for compromise: ‘they feed the meter, then they should be able to park. That’s what the space is for.’” Traffic enforcement agents were taught about that rule, at least as far back as the late 1970’s. As for that meter feeding compromise suggestion, meter feeding is also illegal, as the purpose of the meters is supposedly to insure a turnover in spaces, so that businesses will get more customers, etc. Also, commercial vehicles cannot park in the same space for more than two hours, further complicating the matter. These laws were passed decades ago, so don’t go on a rant against the cops or Sadik-Khan.

  • Food lover

    It sucks…Leave these people alone..all they want to do is feed people good food…NYPD and the Mayor’s office all was trying to get money out of people..they are F&*king crooks…All they think about is money..Food trucks are the new fad in New York and the spaces that they hold up doesn’t block anyone from parking…But as usual the city wants money so they have to stick there hands in everybody’s pockets…NYC sucks…that’s why I moved out and live in NJ

    • bday55

      “that’s why I moved out and live in NJ”


    • IgnoranteElephante

      “It sucks…Leave these people alone..all they want to do is feed people good food…NYPD and the Mayor’s office all was trying to get money out of people..they are F&*king crooks…All they think about is money..”

      Do you really think all that they want to do is feed people? It is a business like anything else, no matter how hispterish, organic, or yuppied up they appear.. They want to make a lot of money in a prime midtown location without paying any rent or real estate tax. Raise the vending license fee and tax the spot that they are in. That seems like a fair solution.

  • Dave R

    These food truck vendors want all the benefits of a prime midtown location without having to pay any rent. Why should they be allowed to operate rent free while restaurants, delis, and bodegas have to pay rent? In fact, without enforcement of this meter law, there is nothing to stop a food truck from setting up shop right in front of a restaurant. How is that fair to the restaurant owner who has spent far more than the truck owner to get his business off the ground?

    • Midtown Luncher

      Because if you are buying a $5-8 lunch from a food truck, you would never go into a restaurant that serve $15-20 meal in the first place.

    • Barre Flynn

      New York is a big place with millions of people. Trucks to no hurt businesses in NYC. In fact without them the restaurants would not be able to accommodate all the people. Plus people like a quick lunch. Properly supervised, these vendors pay taxes and fees to vend on the street.

    • JasonS

      How do you get a “featured comment” with a big blue border around it? I want a “featured comment” with a big blue border around it.

    • David

      Two things: To the restauranteurs who argue “I pay rent and they don’t”,nonsense. You pay rent VOLUNTARILY. Youpick a spot to open a business and you negotiate a rent with the owner of the space. There is no law in NYC, NYS or America, at least none that I can think of, where it’s obligatory to pay rent for your business.

      To the truck owners who hog the meters. You’re getting away with murder and you know it. Even delivery trucks have to pay a commercial meter rate when they make deliveries. For you to pay quarters every 10-20 minutes, like regular cars, and hog two meters at that…you’re saving a bundle. And yes, there’s a good argument to be made that you’re chasing away business from established stores who rely on those meters and for which the City made those rules.

      Here’s where I do agree. Both stores and trucks probably pay a ton of money to get their businesses going. Restaurants compete with other restaurants and my guess is trucks with other trucks. NYC has enough money for everyone. Myself, I’m sticking with Pizzerias and Mister Softee.

      • harriet

        you missed the point, to run a business requires support/services from the city you are in i.e. fire, police, sewer roads for your customers to drive on to reach you, . . . when people pay rent, part of the rent goes to the City via the landlord’s taxes to pay the City for their services, if you simply set up shop on a sidewalk, you get all of the City without contributing to the tax bases, which is drain on the City. As for restaturants competelitn with other restaurants, it’s not true, here the food trucks are upscale, they complete direclty with the restaurants they are parked in front of, and typically charge more then fast food chains i.e. the dumpling truck charges $6 and you can get Subway for $5, but the dumplings are way better.

    • Jacob

      …so what?

    • M. Berman

      Actually, there are rules/laws from a food truck setting up right in front of any food establishment, store front, building front, subway entrance., etc. And, actually, mobile food vendors also have rent to pay as do brick and mortar storefronts (commercial kitchen spaces, commissary rent to park the trucks at night, permit rentals, and the list of other costs can go on and on) . And, actually, mobile food vendors spend a tremendous amount of money to get their businesses up and running. You, my friend, have no idea what really went into and goes into running a mobile food truck. AND, my friend, the last I checked, this was AMERICA,…so why not let the PEOPLE DECIDE WHERE THEY WANT TO EAT, instead of the rich, corrupt, elitists in NYC who have so much money they can pay off the community boards, police department, and City. This City is turning into a fascist state, run by monopolists and elitists. LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE!

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