Amayan Shiha has 25 stitches in the side of his head. He also has another wound not two inches from his kidney and another on his leg. Shiha says the injuries were sustained when a crazed attacker went after him with a switchblade and made his motive painfully clear.
“He looked at me and he tell me ‘you wanna fight?’” said Shiha, “and he grabbed something from his right pocket.”
The incident happened on Tuesday on 28th and 1st Avenue where Shiha operates a food cart right across from Bellevue Hospital. He says he lay bleeding as an off-duty officer chased down the suspect, identified as Luis Gracia.
Although police charged Gracia with Felony Assault, they have not accused him of a hate crime. According to Shiha, cops consider the incident merely a fight over a sandwich. In fact, Gracia is already out on bail.
For the longtime street vendor, it all just doesn’t make sense.
“We still have this kind of stuff happening in New York in 2014 – it’s unbelievable,” adds Shiha.
Ayman Shiha, who works at a halal stand parked across the street from Bellevue Medical Center in Kips Bay, says he was attacked at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the suspect, Luis Gracia, complained that he could not get a Philly cheesesteak at the cart. Shiha was stabbed with a switchblade in his head, neck, torso and leg, and received 25 stitches at Bellevue—he says the attack was sparked by bias.
“It’s a hate crime, because I work in a halal truck. You know, most of the people who work there are Muslim people or immigrant people,” he told CBS 2. “Before he started stabbing in my neck, he told me, ‘You don’t belong to United States? Why are you here? Go back to your f***ing country.’”
According to Shiha, cops are not investigating the assault as a hate crime.
PORTLAND, Ore- They’re a Portland staple, spread out all across the city, they’ve become a part of the culinary culture here.
But recently, thieves have been targeting food carts more frequently, as evidenced by yet another break-in Friday at a food cart pod near 50th and S.E. Division.
The owners think the thieves may have been casing this place for a while. They went into a neighbor’s back yard, hopped a fence where they knew cameras couldn’t see them, and then went straight for this food cart where they picked the lock and let themselves in.
Daniel Hamm is the co-owner of Lou’s Ragin’ Ravioli.
He closed up Thursday night, and by the time he got back to work Friday morning his iPad was gone along with cash.
He called the police right away – they’re tracking down some possible leads but the damage is already done.
“Oh man, it’s infuriating,” Hamm said No one’s getting rich off food carts. We do this because we have a passion for our food. To target a small business like this it’s infuriating,” Hamm said.
Hamm lost more than $1,000 and had to shut down for two days to deal with the break in.
Now they’re looking at investing in new security cameras and say they learned the hard way to never leave any valuables inside the cart.
ELKO — A seven-year Home Depot employee didn’t move very far when he opened his own business.
Mark Riggles, owner of Riggles Ribs-N-Dogs, operates his hot dog cart right in front of Home Depot in Elko.
“I got the full support of the management here and the corporate offices,” Riggles said.
The business strategy isn’t a new thing. In fact, Riggles got the idea after seeing a hot dog cart outside a Home Depot in Salt Lake City.
Riggles Ribs-N-Dogs sells hot dogs, corn dogs, polish sausages, muffins and biscuits and gravy. It has 10 different sauces, but Riggles’ favorite is his own secret recipe, hickory smoke sauce.
“It’s just awesome on hot dogs,” he said.
In a couple of weeks, Riggles said he will also be offering Asian and barbecued ribs on weekends. He will also soon be accepting debit cards, but currently takes only cash.
At Riggles Ribs-N-Dogs, the majority of wait time is likely to be spent in line, or picking what you want.
“I serve people in about 30 seconds,” Riggles said.
Still, if people want to order ahead, they can call 299-8284. Riggles Ribs-N-Dogs is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week.
The customer response so far has been positive.
In the first two weeks since his June 6 opening, Riggles had to make four trips to Twin Falls to stock up on food. In fact, the most popular item — the quarter-pounder hot dog — is off the grill at a rate of 500 per week.
Riggles’ business is self-owned and operated.
“I’m the sole proprietor, owner, operator, chief dishwasher,” he said.
His previous work experience, besides Home Depot, includes 19 years as the maintenance manager at the Parkway Apartments.
A regular all-beef hot dog costs $1.50, smoked sausage is $2 and the quarter pounder is $3. Pops and water are 50 cents each. Riggles also offers daily specials.
Riggles Ribs-N-Dogs will remain open through the end of November and reopen March 1, weather permitting.
So the men behind the wildly popular Halal Guys food carts are opening their first restaurant Saturday, the initial step in the planned worldwide expansion of an operation that started with a lone hot-dog cart in 1990.
The eatery, a 20-seat joint on 14th St. in the East Village, will serve a prettified version of the Middle Eastern street food that draws lines down the block in Midtown.
It’s only the beginning for founders Mohamed Abouelenein, 59, and Abdelbaset Elsayed, 51, who both live in Astoria.
“For me, the (East Village restaurant) is not my aim,” says Abouelenein. “This is just the first step. I am imagining something bigger than this.”
It’s the ultimate New York story: Abouelenein was a veterinarian, and Elsayed was a business student when they emigrated from Egypt “looking for a dream,” Abouelenein says.
For the first few years, the “dream” consisted of jobs as kitchen helpers and cab drivers. Then they began running a cart at Sixth Ave. and 53rd St. — now known as “the original location.”
Hot dogs were fine, but the pair quickly realized that Muslim cabbies were hungry for a tasty — and halal-certified — bite in Midtown without having to leave the car.
Success came by word of (salivating) mouth. Now the Halal Guys carts nourish tourists and office workers with simple gyros and a “magic” white sauce. The biggest seller at their five carts — three on 53rd St. in Midtown, one in the East Village and one in Long Island City — is the combo rice platter: chicken and rice over salad, with pita.
Some things won’t change at the new restaurant, including the 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. hours and the no-alcohol policy. “Most of our customers aren’t Muslim, but we are,” Elsayed says. “We have to respect our religion.”
In addition to the standard gyros and platters sold at the carts, the restaurant will boast new offerings, including a juice and smoothie bar, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, Mediterranean salads and yogurt. And the falafels will be made fresh, instead of merely reheated at the carts.
While a rice-and-meat platter is $6 at Halal Guys’ carts, the East Village restaurant will offer two sizes: a regular for $6 and a large for $7.Next, the Halal Guys will open a larger restaurant at Amsterdam Ave. and 95th St.
Then, they’ll take on the world!
Abouelenein and Elsayed are working with Fransmart — the franchise company behind the rapidly expanding Five Guys Burgers and Fries brand — to open restaurants in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Houston.
“You just look at the lines [at Halal Guys], and it’s people from all walks of life,” says Dan Rowe, founder of Fransmart. “That right there is a franchise. It’s absolutely the right time now, (because) halal food is going to become the new standard. There are already a zillion burger brands.”
Rowe said he’ll eventually roll out Halal Guys in the Philippines, South Korea, and even the Middle East.
“Sure, there’s lot of other halal food there,” Rowe says. “But there was plenty of burgers and fries in America — yet there was still room for Five Guys, which now has 1,500 locations. And this is going to be bigger than Five Guys.”
Abouelenein, who oversees the Halal Guys’ carts, remains astounded by the international interest.
“When you’re working at your pushcart, you keep working and you don’t follow what’s happening about your name,” Abouelenein says. “And then (I discovered) all this demand. The name ‘Halal Guys’ had spread all over the world — and I didn’t even know it.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Halal Guys, 307 E. 14th St., at Second Ave.; (212) 533-7705. Open daily starting Saturday, 7 a.m.-4 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A food cart operator was viciously stabbed while working across from Bellevue Hospital Center earlier this week, and has demanded that his case gets classified as a hate crime.
Ayman Shiha told CBS 2’s Lou Young he believes the motive for the attack this past Tuesday was that he is Egyptian.
Police said the attack was just over a sandwich.
Shiha needed 25 stitches to the face and ear, and suffered a plunging wound that narrowly missed his kidney and multiple other wounds to the left side of his body.
“It’s a hate crime, because I work in a halal truck. You know, most of the people who work there are Muslim people or immigrant people,” Shiha said. “Before he started stabbing in my neck, he told me, ‘You don’t belong to United States? Why are you here? Go back to your f***ing country.’”
The food cart was parked right across from the hospital in Kips Bay around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday when the attack happened. Shiha said the attacker became enraged because the halal stand would not serve a Philly cheesesteak at the halal food cart.
So far, suspect Louis Garcia is only charged with simple assault. The case goes to a grand jury on Monday.
As Cristina Martinez heated a wide maguey leaf on the food cart’s griddle, her husband, Benjamin Miller, reached into a warming box holding slow-cooked barbacoa lamb, and the earthy aromas of Capulhuac, Mexico, suddenly wafted over this South Philly corner at Eighth and Watkins Streets.
“You want rib meat, leg, or spine?” asks Miller, assembling a one-pound package of moist flesh to be gift-wrapped inside the maguey leaf, with a pint of lamb consomme, spicy cactus salad, and a stack of fresh tortillas on the side.
Either one. All of them. I’ll take some of their chile-laced “pancita” offal tacos, too. Because no matter which part of the Barbacoa cart’s lamb I put on a tortilla, this deeply flavorful, tender meat – carved from a whole animal steamed for 10 hours over broth aromatic with garlic and epazote – warmed me with a hum of profound satisfaction.
It should come as no surprise that such a soulful meal – one of the best things I’ve eaten all year – came from a kitchen on wheels. Philadelphia’s food truck revolution, rolling now for five years, is heading into an exciting new phase.
“Three years ago, there may have been a dozen trucks, but today I’m guessing there may be 200 regionwide,” says George Bieber, president of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association and owner of the Sunflower Truck Stop, whose signature is a crab-dip-stuffed grilled cheese. “For every one that has closed, three new ones join the party.”
The PMFA, a local food truck advocacy group now with about 100 members, recently became affiliated with the new National Food Truck Association, an umbrella group hoping to unify the rapidly growing national movement.
Locally, the concepts are as diverse as ever, serving everything from various sweets to samosas and snails. And many of the best new trucks lately have, like Barbacoa, turned to traditional ethnic flavors for inspiration – from pierogies to Belgian waffles to falafel – though with more attention to scratch cooking, creativity, and quality local ingredients than in the past.
And like the Barbacoa cart, which parks just two weekend mornings in a seemingly random location, many have found audiences in spots beyond the usual college zones, from farmer’s markets to a growing suburban market on corporate campuses.
“Food is fun and it’s a community event,” says Meghan Spurlock of Liberty Property Trust, which has drawn between 400 to 800 people to regular new “food truck rallies” at its office parks in Horsham, Malvern, and King of Prussia. The gatherings were inspired by similar truck gatherings in the city at the Navy Yard, where Liberty also owns properties.
The Navy Yard, LOVE Park, the Porch at 30th Street Station, Drexel University’s campus (both 33d and Arch and Market Street), and late nights at the Fishtown crossroads of Frankford and Girard Avenues remain prime Philly hunting grounds for the latest truck fare.
And with so many new offerings emerging seemingly every moment, I encountered surprises with every visit over the last two months of scouting. Some are still so new I’ve yet to taste them – like PieStand, whose fried savory pies just won a top prize at the Vendy Awards competition. Or Seoulfull Philly, a Korean-inspired truck set for its kimchi-fired debut next week. But part of the thrill of our dynamic truck scene is knowing there is always a new flavor parked around the corner yet to discover.
Here is my take on five relatively new “truckers” that have impressed me already this season:
South Philly Barbacoa
Chefs Benjamin Miller and Cristina Martinez, who met at Amis (he was in garde-manger before leaving to cook at Kanella; she was the baker), had planned to open a restaurant in this residential South Philly neighborhood. But when the space fell through, their cart, launched as a taste-teaser in January, had already earned such a cult following from the potent combo of social media-savvy hipster chefs and Mexican immigrants who live in the neighborhood that the couple simply stayed.
And there’s a reason traffic backs up at 10 on weekend mornings: The lamb, marinated in orange juice, then cooked whole over steaming broth in a giant pot lined with maguey leaves according to the tradition of Capulhuac, Cristina’s hometown just southwest of Mexico City, is easily some of the best Mexican food in Philly. Served either as a taco ($3) or a pound package to go ($30), the meat is so velvety it melts, especially good beneath crunchy green nopal salad and charred tomatillo sauce made with farmer Tom Culton’s chiles. The traditional side of consomme, made with chickpeas and drippings from the slow cook, is also sublime. Even so, the hidden gem here is really the pancita, a full-flavored pork sausage mixed with ground lamb innards, chiles, and onions that steams alongside the barbacoa inside the lamb’s stomach. It sounds scary, like Mexican haggis – but don’t be afraid. These pancita tacos are so good, they could become the dish that seduces wary Philadelphians to the earthy pleasures of offal.
Stops: Eighth and Watkins (Sat. and Sun. mornings). Follow: South Philly Barbacoa Truck on Facebook.
Mom-Mom’s Polish Food Cart
Much like Barbacoa, Mom-Mom’s is a mighty little cart, not a truck. And similarly, the couple have a Vetri connection, too. A dinner at Osteria is what really inspired Kaitlin Wines and Ryan Elmore to delve deeper into the world of food. And Elmore eventually helped open Alla Spina from behind the bar. The thematic inspiration for Mom-Mom’s, though, is drawn from the daylong Polish babka fests that Wines experienced with the maternal side of her family, the Chmielewskis. The hearty rice-and-meat “golabki” stuffed cabbages that disappeared quickly from the cart despite the blazing June heat on a recent lunchtime at the Navy Yard is a testament to the universal appeal of that homey tradition. Smoky Czerw’s kielbasa, braised in Yards spruce beer with caramelized onions, then topped with cheddar ale fondue, is a fitting nod to one of Port Richmond’s Polish sausage artisans.
Mom-Mom’s excellent riffs on pierogies, though, are an expression of personal creativity, from the cheesesteak filling made with sharp provolone to an occasional ode to the famous Vetri onion crepe – the supple homemade dough filled with onions caramelized for 11 hours, then enriched with white truffle fondue. Their most unusual? For dessert, Mom-Mom stuffed an entire cupcake from the Cupcake Carnivale truck inside a dumpling, lemon buttercream frosting and all, sauced with wild blueberry sauce and a dollop of vanilla sour cream. A new classic? Maybe not. But for those who’ve tired of the cupcake truck trend, this little cake met an especially sweet brand of pierogi justice.
Stops: Garden Variety at Second and Poplar (Fri. and Sat. nights), Navy Yard (Wed.), Clark Park (Thurs.). Follow on Twitter: @MomMomNomNom; 609-425-8865.
“Would you like a sample?” says Maisa Ojjeh, leaning out from the window of her Station One truck with a smile and a crisp morsel of falafel in hand. I’d nearly walked by on my way down 13th Street near Norris. It had been a disappointing day scouting Temple’s truck scene. Vendors serving variations on Middle Eastern fare are common, and this one, a plain white truck with a generic name, Station One, didn’t look promising. But then I took a bite. This falafel was different. Shaped Syrian-style like a small doughnut for maximum crunch (instead of the usual disk), it was fresher and more flavorful than most. That’s because Ojjeh, who came to Philadelphia a year and a half ago to escape the civil war in Syria with her children and husband, Bashar, has done her best to re-create the flavors of Damascus from her truck. The falafel is handmade daily from freshly ground chickpeas seasoned with coriander, cumin, and cilantro. The baba ghanoush is smoky from an initial charring of the eggplant on a grill. The “samposa” turnovers were not as crisp as I’d hoped. But the ground beef kabob, my second-favorite menu item, is zingy with parsley and spice. And while the pilaf was simple, it was aromatic with the nutmeg, ginger, and curry of homecooked rice.
“This is a new experience for us,” says Ojjeh, who has never been a professional cook. “But I feel happy when people express their admiration for the food, because I’m putting my heart into it.”
Stops: Weekdays on 13th Street just south of Norris Street; Follow: Station One on Facebook; 267-269-6897.
Belgian waffles are among the great street foods of the world – especially the deep-dimpled Liège-style jeweled with coarse pearl sugar that caramelizes on the hot irons to a sweet crunch. I covet mine slathered in gingery-sweet Speculoos biscuit spread. But Philly was without a good version of that style since the Bonté chain went out of business – that is, until Foolish Waffles rolled onto the scene in April. It was two years in the making as former law firm manager Robin Admana and her partner Florence “Flo” Gardner (who still works in nonprofit fundraising) went through three vehicles (their current ride is an old Snap-On truck) and two waffle irons (currently a Dutch-made fired with gas) and countless hours of kitchen training (Admana worked for the Lucky Old Souls truck and Kraftwork) and recipe testing.
Their simple classics still aren’t ideal – the caramelized crunch on my Liège was spotty. But when Foolish goes playfully American with its flatter Brussels-style waffles, using them to wrap creative savory fillings like a puffy burrito, truck food is rarely so much fun. The breakfast sandwich – scrambled eggs, habanero cheddar, bacon, and maple syrup – is an a.m. combo platter rolled up into one. My favorite was their lunch take on chicken-and-waffles, a textural riot of crunchy buttermilk-crusted thighs, tangy apple-cabbage slaw, and zingy bourbon-pickled jalapenos drizzled with spicy-sweet chile honey, then rolled inside the soft cushion of a warm waffle wrap. Next time I’m eager to try the crispy pork belly banh mi waffle – or better yet, the adobo waffle still in development as an ode to Admana’s Filipino heritage.
“I’m just waiting a little,” Admana says. “The other day was the first time that Flo and I actually paid ourselves. And it was such a great feeling.”
Stops: The Porch at 30th St. Station (Tues.), LOVE Park (Wed.), Clark Park (Thurs.), Chestnut Hill Farmer’s Market (Sat.). Follow on Twitter: @foolish waffles.
Heart Food Truck
Many food truckers aspire one day to own a restaurant. Michael Falcone has traveled the opposite direction, shedding the brick-and-mortar confines of Funky Lil’ Kitchen, the Pottstown BYO he owned for nine years, for the freedom to roam three counties (Montgomery, Chester and Philly) in his colorful Heart Food Truck with fiancee Tonda Woodling. The name, it turns out, refers to my two-bell review of FLK, where I wrote that Falcone “cooks from the heart.” Nearly a decade later, Falcone’s steady devotion to seasonal, sustainable, and quality local ingredients still appeals. That could mean a breakfast sandwich with pork roll from Country Time Farm, smoked Lancaster cheddar, and Amish eggs on a roll from the Collegeville Italian Bakery. +Or something as cheffy as escargot with creamed ramps or spring onions over oatmeal cooked with mushroom stock (“a slow-mover,” Falcone concedes with a wink). My favorite, though, was essentially a sandwich version of an FLK cheese plate, with Birchrun Hills Farm blue cheese, tender greens, and sweet strawberries providing a ripe snapshot of the Head House Square farmer’s market where the Heart parks Sundays.
The difference-maker to his truck happiness, Falcone says, is a different set of customer expectations. Restaurant diners, he said, too often arrived with a preconceived notion and a chip on their shoulder. “With the food truck,” he says, “they come up to the window smiling, and leave pleasantly surprised to get such quality from a truck.”
Stops: Phoenixville Farmer’s Market (Sat.); Head House Square Farmer’s Market (Sun.). Follow on Twitter: @HEARTFoodTruck.
Presented by Arrival Agency, the Streetfood Vancouver Society, and VanCity, the weekly Surrey festival will run for nine Saturdays until August 30. Similar to the third-annual Vancouver Food Cart Fest, which takes place near Olympic Village, the event will feature over 15 food trucks each week. This will include a mix of popular Vancouver food trucks and mobile vendors recently approved by the City of Surrey.
“Surrey is launching its Mobile Food Vending program in 2014 with food cart and food truck vendors operating out of 5 locations in the City combined with Food Cart Festival weekends happening at the City Hall plaza throughout the summer months,” Richard Ryan, manager of business operations and support services for the City of Surrey, stated in a news release. “These food truck locations will be a catalyst for bringing great food and urban vibrancy together throughout Surrey. It is hoped that the 2014 pilot program will also lead to bigger and better food vending opportunities in the future.”
Vancouver food trucks scheduled to make a weekly appearance include Didi’s Greek, DougieDog, Holy Perogy, Le Tigre, Mogu, Pig on the Street, Re-Up BBQ, Reef Runner, Roaming Dragon, Soho Road, Varinicey Pakoras, Vij’s Railway Express, Yolk’s Breakfast, and Ze Bite.
Similar to the Vancouver festival, Food Cart Fest in Surrey will also include a community market with local vendors, DJ’d music, and a children’s area.
Admission to Surrey’s Food Cart Fest is $2, or free with a non-perishable donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Children 13 years and under and members of VanCity can also enter the event for free.
CITY CENTRE – Vancouver’s Food Cart Fest is coming to Surrey this summer.The weekly festival of food will be held on Saturday afternoons at city hall plaza, starting July 5 and running for nine weeks, ending Aug. 30.Event planners are Vancity, Arrival Agency and Streetfood Vancouver.In Vancouver, a similar event has taken place since 2012, attracting thousands of people each week with DJs, a market, activities for kids and, of course, food carts.”For the past two years, Food Cart Fest (in Vancouver) has been a great way to bring the community together to celebrate the Lower Mainland’s exploding street food scene,” stated Ernesto Gomez of Arrival Agency, an event planner based in Vancouver.”We’re thrilled to be able to expand the festival into the heart of Surrey, at a landmark setting like the new city hall.”More than 15 food trucks will be parked for the weekly festival in Surrey, including select vendors from the list of 10 recently approved by the City of Surrey, as part of its new Mobile Food Vending program.In May, prospective vendors were invited to apply to be part of the pilot project. Vendors will operate in pairs at five locations around the city: the east and west parking lots at North Surrey Recreation Centre, Bear Creek Park/Surrey Arts Centre parking lot, Newton Wave Pool parking lot and the new City Hall Plaza.Like its Vancouver counterpart, admission to Surrey’s Food Cart Fest will be free to Vancity members or with a donation of a non-perishable food item to Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Otherwise, admission will be $2.
To learn more about our contest partner Vancity’s commitment to the Food Cart Festivals and the local food sector, please visit their website.
Have a great day!
Vancouver Food Cart Fest
Location: 215 West 1st (Between Olympic Village
Cambie Bridge). [Map] Time: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Date: Runs every Sunday from June 22 to August 31. (11 weeks) Cost of entry: $2 per person. But free for Vancity members, car2go members and those who bring a non-perishable donation for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.
What will you find there?
20 of Vancouver’s best food carts (all members of Street Food Vancouver Society), representing cuisines from around the world. DJs. Kids’ activities. A local artisanal market and community market. Urban gardening demonstrations by Victory Gardens, bee-keeping tutorials, and back-yard chicken raising workshops. Soccer matches. And a bike valet by B.E.S.T for your sweet ride.
Last year, close to 5,000 people took part every week. Sounds like a pretty good party… and this year there will be more seating, more trucks, and more shade!
Check out some pics from 2013 festivities.
Food Cart Fest happens along the Seawall and is easily accessible by bike. Not only that, there’s complimentary bike valet service.
Photos by Lindsay Elliott
Get ready for some food, fun and sun! Bring your hats, sunglasses, and appetites.
Food Cart Fest is a family-friendly event with loads of activities to keep kids happy.
Not only a family-friendly event, Food Cart Fest is also a canine-friendly event.
Last year upwards of 5,000 people showed up! Fortunately there’ll be 20+ food trucks in attendance every week for you to choose from.
Location: Civic Plaza, Surrey City Centre, 103rd Ave (Right at Surrey Central Skytrain station). [Map] Time: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Date: Runs every Saturday from July 5 until August 30, 2014 (9 weeks) Cost: $2/person or $5/family. Free entry for Vancity members, car2go members, children under 13 and seniors over 65.
What will you find there?
Some of Vancouver’s best food carts (all members of Street Food Vancouver Society), as well as some of Surrey’s own vanguard food carts will be assembled in the new Surrey Civic Plaza.
Experience cutting edge architecture, great food, music, and kids’ activities. In addition, Vancity will be inviting two of its community partners each week to showcase their positive community impacts, including DeltaAssist, DIVERSEcity, Earthwise Society, Keys Housing Health Solutions, Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS), Phoenix Society, Stepping Stones, and the Surrey Women’s Centre.