Browsing articles in "food cart"
Nov 14, 2014
Jim Benson

NYC Food Truck Lunch: Bao From The Kaya Cart

Perry, the founder of New York Street Food, brings you his latest review on New York City street food.

A new food cart recently appeared on the streets of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn called the Kaya Cart. They serve bao, which is what Fun Buns NYC serves. That might explain why the Kaya Cart doesn’t venture into Midtown.

There are 4-5 bao to choose from on the menu, along with a couple of choices of sides.  The bao are $3.50 each, except Peking duck, which is $4.

We got the special with 2 bao and a side order of popcorn chicken for $9. Since one of the bao we chose was Peking duck, it ended up being $9.50.

Service was quick, and we left with lunch in under 5 minutes.

The popcorn chicken was fried in a light batter, along the lines of Japanese kara-age. There was a little crunch to the batter, but nowhere near what Southern fried chicken gets. The popcorn chicken was good, but a little salty.

(credit: Perry R.)

(credit: Perry R.)

The Peking duck bao comes with hoisin sauce, and shredded cucumber and scallions on top. Duck skin was included inside the bao, and it was tasty, but it wasn’t crispy. Asian 5-spice flavor was the most up front taste in the duck bao, which we enjoy.

Picking up the chicken bao was tricky since it was so full of meat. The marinated, shredded chicken was nice and juicy, and the fresh cilantro leaves added freshness. Unfortunately, the chicken was so juicy, the bao fell apart in the middle.

The bao themselves (the part that holds the meat) were light and puffy, and we were happy overall with this lunch, except for the chicken bao falling apart towards the end.

The Kaya Cart parks by Hudson King Sts, in the Financial District, and in Brooklyn. They told us the street food market in Midtown is too saturated, but it’s pretty crowded in FiDi too, if you ask us.

You can find the Kaya Cart on Twitter here, on Facebook here, and their website is here.

(credit: Perry R.)

(credit: Perry R.)

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Nov 14, 2014
Jim Benson

Bethany’s new ‘micro restaurants’ to bring food-cart mentality to Washington … – The Oregonian

The emergence of skinny houses a decade ago in locales such as Tigard and Tualatin challenged the notion that Portland’s suburbs are where things go to grow.

Now it’s happening again, this time in food offerings, with half a dozen “micro-restaurants” tucked into a shopping mall in the Bethany area of unincorporated Washington County.

“We studied the market extensively and consulted with a lot of people before moving ahead,” said Roy Kim, owner of Bethany Village, where the first of the micros will open in early January. “We haven’t seen anyone doing this.”

The food-cart explosion that has converted entire blocks in downtown Portland into movable feasts has largely missed the area’s suburbs. That’s due both to the lack of critical masses of diners in areas outside the urban core and because of regulations in some surrounding towns that restrict when and where food carts can set up.

Kim’s Bethany Village is out to change that dynamic.

The six privately owned restaurants will lease a total of 2,400 square feet in two of the mall’s buildings – a recently vacated Starbucks and a former beauty salon.

Averaging only 400 square feet each, the eateries will have separate entrances, walk-up counters and seating areas, while sharing back-to-back grills, exhaust hoods and grease traps.

The goal, Kim said, is to dramatically expand food choices in the densely populated residential area north of U.S. 26 by bringing an urban food-cart experience – minus the cart – to the suburbs.

“We can’t attract food cart-type businesses here because the typical restaurant spaces are far too large,” he said. “At the same time, we’re saving the operators from having to make what would otherwise be a huge upfront investment in restaurant equipment.”

Two tenants have been announced so far. They are Zeek’s Cheese Grill, a food cart specializing in gourmet sandwiches, and owner Bo Kwon’s successful KOi Fusion.

Portland’s KOi Fusion, with eight mobile locations to complement its six brick-and-mortar outlets in the area, may be the perfect hybrid to lead a hybrid experiment.

“If there is no big risk and no crazy, 10,000-square-foot lease, this becomes part of a pool you can dive into,” Kwon said. “We’re testing the waters.”

The reason he got into food carts in the first place wasn’t because of the hype or that it was cool, Kwon said.

“It’s because it costs less,” he said. “That’s what’s getting us into a place that would otherwise be really expensive.”

He’s also impressed by Kim’s plans to nudge Bethany Village from a traditional shopping mall more into something resembling a “lifestyle center” akin to Tualatin’s Bridgeport Village.

Little stores that were having trouble succeeding are now converting to food places, Kwon said, creating a space more conducive to eating, walking and browsing around.

A central fountain near the new micro restaurants, for instance, will offer additional shared seating for diners. For the big weekend events such as large car shows that Kim is planning, Kwon will get one-time approval to deploy a mobile food cart to accommodate the expect crush of visitors.

If the experiment works here, it will likely be replicated elsewhere throughout the region’s suburbs, said Sean Herron, owner of Big Idea Group, a Portland-based restaurant consulting business.

“Plus, this is an excellent incubator for a lot of these smaller operators,” he said. “They have a chance to get their foot in the door and parlay this into something bigger in the future.”

Anything bigger, obviously, is the down road. For now, it’s all about one micro success at a time.

– Dana Tims

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Nov 13, 2014
Jim Benson

Former food cart owners open restaurant in Greenville

A year after they won a chance to open a brick and mortar shop in a mall food court, and after a year in Spartanburg, Tirado’s Empanadas and More is moving back to Greenville. The family-owned business that specializes in unique empanadas announced plans this week to open a restaurant space in Greenville.

Trish, Jenn, Steven and John Tirado are leaving their WestGate Mall location in Spartanburg, their home for over a year, for a café space on Stallings Road that they plan to open in January.

Tirardo’s became famous last year after winning “Food Court Wars,” a competition show on the Food Network. The mother and daughter team of Jenn and Trish wowed the judges, including the show’s host, Tyler Florence, with their flavorful Puerto Rican and Caribbean-inspired cuisine.

The prize was $10,000, a brick and mortar space in the food court at the mall in Spartanburg and one year rent free. Tirado’s moved into the space in July 2013, and its been a whirlwind ever since, Trish says.

“We’ve learned so much this past year and really grown to appreciate what each individual person brings to the table,” Trish says. “We couldn’t have done any of this without any of us. We needed each other to do it all.”

The food court experience was great, Trish says, but they knew they wanted to open a place outside of the mall. They figured they’d stay in Spartanburg. In fact they competed for and won the Main Street Challenge, which would have earned them $12,000 for opening up shop in downtown Spartanburg.

But they couldn’t find the right space.

“We’re a small family business and we needed a small place,” Trish says, “And all the small places had no kitchens so we’d have to come up with a significant amount of money in order to move into Spartanburg.”

So on a whim, they turned their search to Greenville and within a week they’d found their location.

The 1,100 square foot space is outfitted with a commercial grade oven with a hood and has space for eat-in service. When it’s complete, Tirado’s restaurant will have seating for about 30 people. Service will be café style, with customers ordering at the counter and food brought to their table.

Having a restaurant space means Tirado can grow its menu too. Trish says there are plans to add more main dish items like salads, sandwiches and seasoned meat dishes.

Of course, the empanadas will remain, and will be as creative as ever. Tirado’s has experimented with Creole-inspired ones and a fruit one filled with local peaches and blueberries and papaya during the summer. One of the best creations was the monte cristo empanada, with black forest ham, Swiss cheese, a raspberry mango jelly and a dusting of powdered sugar.

“People loved that one,” Trish says.

Food and cooking has always been the tie that binds the Tirado family. Trish’s family roots are Greek and Irish, and when she married a man who is Puerto Rican, she learned to cook authentic Puerto Rican food from her husband’s family.

The idea to start an actual business developed gradually. Trish was working as a graphic designer but feeding her passion for cooking on the side for family and friends.

In May 2012, when the family decided to take the leap and open a food business, they tested the waters first with a food cart. The cart was a staple on the corner of Broad and Main Streets for a year and gained a loyal following with its flavorful, local-inspired creations. But the chance to move to a brick and mortar store was life-changing.

“We want to do a little bit more,” Trish explains. “We focused on empanadas at the mall because it was very difficult to do anything else. It has to be fast. We want to introduce more of a meal.”

At times, the family has talked about reviving the cart, but for now, they are focused on getting the new restaurant up and running first.

But, you never know.

“It might be revived,” Trish says. “I loved hanging out on the street and talking to people. The only thing I didn’t like about the cart is we couldn’t cook on the cart so we couldn’t give people all the flavors. That’s the main thing the brick and mortar gave us.”

Tirado’s Empanadas and More is located at 1316 Stallings Rd. in Greenville. For more information call 864-982-2419 or visit the Tirado’s website.

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Nov 12, 2014
Jim Benson

Outside the Met Museum, the Turf War Between Food Vendors Continues

A hot dog vendor puts up another unbrella in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (Photo credit: Stan Honda/Getty)A hot dog vendor puts up another unbrella in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (Photo credit: Stan Honda/Getty)

A hot dog vendor puts up an umbrella in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Photo credit: Stan Honda/Getty)

Veteran’s Day is a particularly busy day for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Veterans, plus a guest, have free admission to the museum, where they can expect to see classic works of art, weaving their way round the Egyptian Room or Roman sculptures. Less expected–and less visually appealing–are the fifteen or more food carts parked outside of the venue, which block access to buses and taxi stands. Staking it out at the most lucrative food-cart location in the city, the vendors–many of whom are in fact veterans themselves–are in a constant turf war for the best spot that began way back in 2007.

When the competition began in earnest some seven years ago, The New York Times wrote that the spot held just two hot dog carts, who paid money to the city in permits. That all changed when Bob Rossi exercised his right as a disabled veteran, via a 19th century law, to vend on parks’ property without a costly permit fee.

Dan Rossi's hot dog cart is one of many food carts which line the sidewalk outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Nicole Puglise/New York Observer).Dan Rossi's hot dog cart is one of many food carts which line the sidewalk outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Nicole Puglise/New York Observer).

Dan Rossi’s hot dog cart is one of many food carts which line the sidewalk outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Nicole Puglise/New York Observer).

Mr. Rossi unwittingly opened Pandora’s Box, and an influx of veterans and vendors soon flooded the block to cash in. Some carts, like his own, are owned and operated by veterans. Others, he claims, are part of a “rent-a-vet” scheme, where veterans obtain these permits and then sell them to third parties who operate the carts.

“It’s insulting to put the word veteran on a cart when it’s not really owned by a veteran,” Mr. Rossi told the Observer.

When asked about the veterans’ whereabouts, Mr. Rossi said they were generally across the street or getting food elsewhere. One veteran even bought a hot dog from Mr. Rossi’s cart. “They won’t even eat from the carts they supposedly own,” he said.

Mark, a veteran who asked that his full name be withheld, said that he sold his permit two years ago, via a “verbal contract.” His permit was subsequently sold, and he with it. Now his days are spent with the cart, while his nights are spent as an airplane mechanic. “I have to stay with the cart. If anything happens I have to represent as the owner of the cart. But I don’t own the cart,” he said. Mr. Rossi calls him “an indentured servant.”

The Times reported that the Department of Investigation looked into complaints regarding a “rent-a-vet” scheme in January of this year, but any attempts at regulation have been halted by a pending appeal of a New York State Supreme Court Case regarding the interpretation of the statute.

Despite the hold ups, Sheryl Neufeld, administrative law division chief of the New York City Law Department, said in a statement that, “The city continues to monitor the situation carefully and take appropriate action when necessary.”

However, until the case is decided, the area in front of the met will remain as crowded as ever. Mr. Rossi has taken to extreme measures to protect his space in the sidewalk–he sleeps in his cart every night, and plans to continue to do so through the winter. He and his daughter, Elizabeth Rossi, and two other veterans cycle through their collective carts, switching them each night to comply with health regulations. The carts by law cannot stay outside and functioning for twenty-four hours a day; they must take them away for cleaning.

Other vendors have not chosen to take such extreme measures. Nir K. Magar, an immigrant from Nepal and cook in a halal cart outside the Met, told the Observer that his cart arrives on scene around 8:30 am. He calls the feud “trouble for everyone.”

The feud is especially troublesome for the Museum. Harold Holzer, the Vice President for Public Affairs at the Met describes the ongoing situation as “an accident waiting to

A security camera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art captures the dense cluster of food vendors outside (Photo credit: Harold Holzer/The Metropolitan Museum of Art)A security camera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art captures the dense cluster of food vendors outside (Photo credit: Harold Holzer/The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

A security camera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art captures the dense cluster of food vendors outside its iconic steps (Photo credit: Harold Holzer/The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

happen”. The museum is concerned for the safety of its patrons, with the sidewalk, bus stops, and cab stands being blocked, not to mention the numerous propane tanks fueling the carts. Mr. Holzer says that the Museum receives at least one complaint per day.

An artist whose work hangs inside of the Met visited the Museum two weekends ago. “She had such trouble squeezing through the carts to hail a cab, that she tripped and broke her ankle,” Mr. Holzer said.

“Many visitors think that the Met doesn’t care about the situation,” he says. But the Met, like the city, is left waiting for the results of the court appeal to rule on proper enforcement of this law.Until then, the turf war continues.

Update: An original version of this story did not contain a statement from Sheryl Neufeld.

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Nov 11, 2014
Jim Benson

Former Portland food cart Wy’East hopes to open artisan pizza restaurant in …

Forge pizza

Former Portland food cart Wy’East Pizza plans to reopen in Milwaukee as a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

Alison Bauter
Reporter- Milwaukee Business Journal


A former Portland pizza cart hopes to open a brick-and-mortar location in Milwaukee’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

Ann Brock, co-owner of Wy’East Pizza LLC, said planning for the restaurant is still in its early stages, but she hopes to open it at 5601 W. Vliet St., previously Papa Joe’s Pizza Pasta.

She and husband/co-owner James Durawa operated a food cart of the same name in Portland, where their artisan pizza received glowing reviews. Last June, the two moved back to their home state of Wisconsin to be closer to family, and made plans to open Wy’East as a permanent fixture.

Wy’East will offer artisan, high-temperature pizzas to dine in or carryout, she said. Although the name refers to its southeast Portland neighborhood origins, Brock said they’ll keep the name in Wisconsin, since it’s what their reputation was built on out west.

Currently, the couple is pursuing city assistance of $220,000 through two loans from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. to purchase and renovate the vacant, city-owned property on Vliet Street.

Reporter Alison Bauter covers small business, technology, education and banking for the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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Nov 8, 2014
Jim Benson

The Met’s Food Cart Problem Isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon

The Met’s Food Cart Problem Isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon

Josh Niland,
Friday, November 7, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum, with food carts out front.
Photo: Robert Easton/Flickr.

City officials have been spying on the food carts outside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for longer than previously thought, according to a report in the New York Times.

Though food carts have been in front of the Met for years, recent complaints from museum officials and neighborhood community boards have prompted the city to crackdown on vendors, who routinely employ so-called “rent-a-vets”—stand-ins for cart operators that, because of their veteran status, allow the operators to be technically compliant with a somewhat obscure nineteenth-century law permitting disabled veterans to serve food in specific areas of the city without paying the now $300,000-plus annual fee for a license.

“What we have now is a blight on a magnificent new civic space, and a huge impediment, bordering on a safety hazard, for the thousands of people who visit the museum every day,” Harold Holzer, the senior vice president for public affairs at the Metropolitan Museum, told the Times.

The city finally took matters into its own hands last year by launching an undercover investigation into the vendors’ practice that yielded little in the way of evidence incriminating cart operators of anything other than being mildly lazy. As a result, city officials decided there was no consistent way to interpret the law, and the investigation was closed this year without any actions being taken.

This news comes after another report from the Times this September (see “Around the Art World in Three Minutes“) that detailed heavy-handed surveillance tactics along with some less-than artful cozening on the part of Holzer, who claimed the carts left grease stains on a part of the plaza they never inhabited.

For the time being, museum and city officials will have to get used to the sight of vendors, who on busy days number as many as 20, selling $2 hot dogs on a $65 million plaza gifted to the museum this year by hedge fund billionaire and all-around public corruption magnate David Koch (see “Protesters Crash Koch Plaza Opening at the Met“).

“I don’t see it as a terrible thing,” said Howard Dalton, an Army veteran who has operated a cart in the front of the museum of the past three years, in an interview with the Times. “You have to get your workers where you can. It’s the American way.”


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Nov 7, 2014
Jim Benson

Putting the Cart Before the Art

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Nov 7, 2014
Jim Benson

Good Food is now on top in revised 2014 Madison food cart rankings

The city of Madison’s annual food cart review rankings, which were released two weeks ago, have been revised, resulting in a new top cart, although other changes overall are minor.

Previously number one-ranked cart FIB’s Fine Italian Beef and Sausage, which parks at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Main Street, and previously second-ranked cart Good Food, which parks in front of the Park Bank at Main and Pinckney, have flipped places. Good Food now comes out on top in overall scoring by .64 of a point.

Street vending coordinator Warren Hansen released revised scores on Thursday, with the additional caveat that the rankings will not be final until after a Vending Oversight Committee meeting to take place Nov. 19. At that meeting, one vendor will “dispute a non-Health Department demerit point,” according to Hansen.

The other shift in ranking, affecting FIB’s and Good Food, came from the fact that several cart reviewers who discovered after submission of their scores that they had made errors in their score sheets. In one case, a reviewer submitted scores for a cart not actually visited, while another failed to record food scores for carts that were.

The rest of the top ten remains the same:

  1. Good Food 1
  2. FIB’s 1
  3. El Burrito Loco
  4. Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn (MLK at Doty Street)
  5. Zen Sushi
  6. Slide
  7. Caracas Empanadas
  8. Teriyaki Samurai
  9. Surco Peruvian
  10. Fresh Cool Drinks

And, reports Hansen, the Health Department changed one vendor’s health demerit points from -5 to -1 — that was Hibachi Hut, moving it from 39th place up to 25th.

View the revised 2014 rankings.

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Nov 5, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart Love & Whisky joins Pok Pok and Koi Fusion at the airport – The Oregonian

Love Whisky, a gourmet burger and taco cart at S.W. 5th Ave. and Oak St. in downtown Portland, has joined the Koi Fusion and Pok Pok carts at the airport.

The food cart will also serve sandwiches and pancakes at the airport location.

In July, The Oregonian reported Portland International Airport’s plan to revamp their concessions program as three-quarters of the post-security vendor stalls finish their leases, leaving between 30-40 available spots for new vendors. 

In addition to nine new restaurants post-security, the airport has added a number of local food carts pre-security. Currently, Koi Fusion, Pok Pok and Love Whisky have set up shop at the north end of the Oregon Market. Three more carts are slated to open in the area later this year.

Menu items will be the same prices as the non-airport locations. 

– Samantha Bakall 

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Nov 4, 2014
Jim Benson

Nursing home settles case of resident hit, killed by food cart

*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the information provided by defense attorney Tom M. Allen. The article originally stated that the jury award was $800,000. This includes attorney’s fees, which Allen says are “highly disputed.”

A California long-term care facility has agreed to settle a wrongful death case involving a resident who was struck by a dining cart, local news sources reported Monday.

Margaret Kasper was a resident at the Vista Healthcare Center in the San Diego area in 2010, when she was hit by a large dining cart and sustained a broken hip, according to local ABC affiliate KGTV. The 94-year-old died five days later, after undergoing surgery.

Kasper’s family then sued the facility, claiming that only one person had been moving the cart, when it required someone at both ends. It reportedly was 70 inches high and 32 inches wide.

At a trial earlier this year, a former Vista receptionist said that only one person routinely pushed the cart, and a special code was broadcast over the intercom whenever a health inspector arrived on the premises, KGTV reported. The code — “Simon line nine” —   was a signal that a second person should start helping with the cart, the receptionist testified.

The receptionist based her testimony about the code on a “single comment” supposedly made by the facility’s director of nursing, Vista attorney Tom M. Allen told McKnight’s. The DON “expressly denied” that the facility was engaged in the practice described by the receptionist, according to Allen, a partner at Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard Smith LLP.

“There is no standard requiring two persons to transport a cart. The industry standard is one person, as Vista did it before the accident,” Allen wrote in an email to McKnight’s. He added that experts with “150 years of collective experience” testified, and none had seen an instance of an accident caused by having one person pushing a cart.

A jury awarded Kasper’s family $135,000.* The facility then appealed and entered into an undisclosed settlement in late October, according to KGTV.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys had not responded to a phone call from McKnight’s as of press time. 

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