Friday, July 17, 2009

today's pushcart war

to pay the acting habit, i work part time for a real estate (and other things) mogul. i run a fancy website practically single handedly -- -- who'd have thunk my rudimentary html would take up most of my paycheck?

this has all left me knowing much more about specialty real estate than i would ever want to know.

which leaves me wondering about the fascinating number of fancy food mobiles around ny.

if you aren't located here, it is hard to appreciate the depth of this market. on the one hand are the multitude of good old ice cream trucks, with their incessant jingling songs. the "traditional" ice cream trucks mostly mark their territory above harlem--swarming thickly throughout inwood and up into the bronx, with another hive in queens. the roving monsters sing at all hours, prompting insanity and war throughout the neighborhoods. and its not just trucks vs. people, but vendor vs. vendor too, with Mister Softee battling Good Humor over routes.

while this is rather extreme, the real story of the truck vendor that fascinates me are the slightly more "high class" specialty trucks that tend throughout the rest of the city.

there's Big Gay Ice Cream Truck , run by a bassoonist from the brooklyn symphony who had to find more work when the season was canceled, that serves fancy ice cream with toppings like ginger cookies, wasabi pea dust, pumpkin butter, curried coconut, cocoa nibs, and cayenne. on his Twitter the recent debate has been over adding pickle toppings. ew.

but if that's not classy enough for you there is always Van Leeuwen Artisan ice cream which focuses on simple elegant flavors.

then there is CupcakeStop Truck run by a NYU law school grad, which always seems to be waiting for me just as i step off the subway to go to work in the morning, though i've never tried it. they have all kinds of fancy cupcakes, red velvet and key lime and you name it.

one the trendiest of the mobile vendors isWafels & Dinges
this fancy truck sells brussels waffles with crazy toppings. it has been lauded in practically every publication. i see this one throughout the upper west side-fancy land. there's even an "impostor" waffle truck with owners from new jersey, that hunts midtown occasionally. it is run by a former employee of wafels & dinges and uses similar style and logos but is not the real thing! so people tell me. :)

it goes on and on. the dessert truck has all your gourmet dessert needs and the Treats Truck focuses on special cookies and brownies--though their tag line is "Not too fancy, always delicious!" they still look super fancy to me.

and it's not just sweet things. their are multiple pizza trucks and burger trucks outfitted with ovens in the trucks! and we're not even talking about the little carts that litter the city with hotdogs and pretzels.

today walking to union square there were several people waiting in front of a truck stamped with "brooklyn pizza"and it made me wonder how much money these things save/make rolling around the city, twittering and facebooking their latest location, vs having an actual restaurant somewhere. though i haven't indulged in any of them myself, i know that there is quite a cult following over the fancy ones. people blog sitings back and forth, texting to find out the latest location. though who can possible eat that many cupcakes?

the nytimes had quite a story [Turf War at the Hot Dog Cart] a few weeks ago over the turf wars between fancy trucks and their vendor cousins--bringing immigrant and class war to a whole new level. speaking about one of the new Sweet trucks:

In four weeks of business, the couple has been thre
atened at the depot where they park the truck; cursed by a gyro vendor who said that he would set their truck on fire; told to stay off every corner in Midtown by ice cream truck drivers; and approached by countless others with advice — both friendly and menacing — on how to get along on the streets.

...The new truckers, knowingly or innocently, often roll right over unwritten rules about which corner belongs to whom, and when. The city, other than blocking certain streets entirely and enforcing parking regulations, does not dictate locations for food carts. But spots are virtually owned by vendors who have worked them for decades; they are handed down within families and even sold on the black market.

who knew?

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