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Fierce Food Fight Over Street Carts Brewing In Brooklyn

Local Restaurant Owners, Food Cart Vendors Spar Over Territory In Bay Ridge
The manager of the Middle Eastern Halal cart pulls it past a group of local food business owners, who set up a table in protest of food vendors in the neighborhood. (credit: CBS 2)

The manager of the Middle Eastern Halal cart pulls it past a group of local food business owners, who set up a table in protest of food vendors in the neighborhood. (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A business battle is pitting neighbors against one another in Brooklyn. Owners of traditional brick and mortar businesses are battling street vendors.

Things got ugly on Tuesday as tensions continued to rise in Bay Ridge after a group of local business owners banded together to banish food carts.

“We want to be put on the no vendor food zone because the food vendors are destroying our neighborhood,” Tony Gentile, owner of the Lone Star Bar, told CBS 2’s Elise Finch.

“They make 86th Street very dirty,” added Chris Huang of Century Buffet & Sushi. “They drop the garbage on my sidewalks. Every morning I have to clean up.”

Business owners set up a table on the corner of 86th Street and 5th Avenue, where one popular food cart usually operates.

“We have a right to be here until you recognize that I’m an American just like you. I’m American like you. You can’t tell me this is not my country,” yelled Sammy Kassen, the manager of the Middle Eastern Halal cart.

But opinions among residents differed when it came to the restaurant versus vendor food fight.

“It’s not good for the upkeep of the neighborhood, in my opinion, to have these carts all over the place,” one woman said.

“I don’t think that you have a right to put a table out, put benches out to stand in someone’s way when they’ve licensed themselves. They’re working hard,” added Eve Morrissey.

Mobile food vendors said the city allows them to be there, so they want the local business to stop trying to force them out.

“I’ve been here for the last four years. Why do I have to move because a couple of stores dislike me?” Kassen said.

The exchanges became more angry and less about food as people on both sides of the fight passed by.

“Medicaid and food stamps and Section 8 and you work on the side. Get the hell out of here,” one woman said.

Still others wondered aloud why there was such animosity toward the food carts.

“I think they’re damn wrong, because I’m saying all over New York City they allow them. There is a law saying they can have those trucks right? Why in particular here do they want to stop them? It’s not right,” one woman said.

“If they weren’t Palestinian this would be a totally different situation,” Mohammed Faraj added.

But some business owners begged to differ.

“No one should play the race card here because it’s not an issue…strictly business,” said Carlo Salzarulo of the A&S Pork Store.

Police had to step in to calm things down at one point, but the food battle is far from over.

People who support the street vendors plan to gather on the Bay Ridge corner on Friday if the business owners don’t stop blocking the area.

What do you make of the Bay Ridge food fight?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…