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The war for Fifth Avenue

City mulls over fate of Fifth Ave. food carts

Brooklyn Daily

The city’s Department of Small Business Services has been pulled into the ongoing turf war between Fifth Avenue merchants and food cart vendors — and are poised to make a decision that could boot vendors from the intersection for good.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) held a long-demanded meeting with the city agency last week, just a few days after the Save Our Streets campaign created by vendor-hating merchants displaced a controversial gyro cart from Fifth Avenue for two days at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street.

During the discussion, Gentile asked Department of Small Business staffers to reconvene the Food Vendor Review panel and enact a pilot program where the city can create vendor-free zones at certain intersections.

Small Business Services Deputy Commissioner Andrew Schwartz left the meeting promising to come up with a concrete plan for 86th Street and Fifth Avenue within the next two weeks. The agency could turn the intersection — and the streets surrounding it — into a vendor free zone, sending the Middle Eastern Halal Cart and other food vendors packing.

Calls to Sammy Kassen, the manager of the Middle Eastern Halal Cart, were not returned.

Councilman Gentile blasted the existing city regulations on food carts, claiming that they often contradict one another.

“The city needs to enact clearer guidelines when it comes to sharing our streets with mobile food vendors,” he said.

Save Our Streets founder Tony Gentile, the owner of the Lone Star bar on Fifth Avenue — who is not related to the Councilman — said the sit down with Deputy Commissioner Schwartz was a victory for his campaign.

“I think they will come back in favor,” the bar owner said. “But the only way this is going to end is if these restaurants on wheels are out of 86th Street.”

Tony Gentile said that his campaign already has “a backup plan in motion” if the Department of Small Business Services doesn’t take action against the food carts, but declined to elaborate on just what he has in mind.

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

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

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. https://twitter.com/#!/WillBredderman

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Reader Feedback

Crawford from Bay Ridge says:
The only "city intervention" should be the arrest of the Lone Star bar owners, who illegally installed a bench and illegally blocked the vendor from opening.

Lone Star itself should be shut down. They have active drug trade within the bar on weekend nights, and I'm sure this is with the approval of the ownership (it's blindingly obvious).
May 9, 2012, 10:07 am
Osito from Ft. Hamilton says:
Why is this even a debatable topic? What exactly have the food vendors done wrong?

Their food is excellent, and the long lines are testament to their quality.

Why is the bar complaining? The drunks are somehow inconvenienced by the presence of tasty food? That bar looks like a pit from the outside.
May 9, 2012, 10:18 am
John q from Bay ridge says:
Good for you merchants of 86 th street it's unfair and they should hook up there carts and be mobile right out of the area. And as for LoneStar that is great place great food and no problems all other bars in Brooklyn should be managed as well this is a great bar with a no —— mentality never any bad patrons if they weasel there way in they get thrown right out.
May 9, 2012, 11:18 am
Datsun from BayRidge says:
John Q, you must be the owner of Lonestar. That place is a dump, and everyone knows about their clientele.
May 9, 2012, 12:10 pm
John Q from Bay ridge says:
Not the owner just a good coustomer of all merchants on 86 thstreet You must be Sammys boyfriend ass hole
May 9, 2012, 1:21 pm
Harry from Bay Ridge says:
I support the food vendors as do most of my friends and neighbors.

John Q, your "boyfriend" and "ass hole" comment really reflects well on you, your POV and cart opponents.

May 9, 2012, 10:45 pm
chris t from bay ridge says:
I always agreed that vendors shouldnt be allowed in that area as its unfair to people who pay rent. I use to eat the cart food though atleast 2-3x a week. Once they started saying racism i will never go back there again. Its amazing how people try and pull the racism card in their convenience. I know alot of people who are christians, catholics and jews who did support the cart but once they claimed " racism " they lost alot of people. Go to one of the many empty store fronts in the area if you want to continue your business in the area
May 11, 2012, 10:39 pm
NYNative from Bay ridge says:
These comments are as biased as Sammy kassan's accusations regarding race. I frequent LoneStar and there is absolutely no drugs in LoneStar. The customers and staff of LoneStar are all hard working citizens of this fine community. The food cart caters to the many shoppers and teenagers looking for a cheap eat. You should be held liable for defamation.
May 19, 2012, 3:08 pm
BKborn&raised from Bensonhurst says:
Sorry, but many Caucasians of the area also believe the situation is fueled by racial tensions from both sides. Though admittedly from what I have witnessed personally in the area, it is from us Caucasians... It's unfortunate that some still hold the mentality of keeping the neighborhood "Italian like the good old days". Who f'ing cares. Who existed in Brooklyn before us Italians did? Exactly. Stop "claiming land". It's embarrassing to everyone that attempts to do so. There are truly some that are plain ignorant and stupid.
Aug. 9, 1:15 am

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