METRO VANCOUVER â€” Planning a festival is a bit like preparing dinner from scratch, but in the case of Surrey’s inaugural Food Cart Fest, the organizers have the added challenge of cooking in someone else’s kitchen.
That, in a manner of speaking, is the reason why staff at Vancouver’s Arrival Agency, known in part for their work at FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Khatsahlano Block Party, announced Thursday they were postponing the festival for a month.
The reason for the delay is as simple as failing to get the right paperwork in on time, said Daniel Fazio, with the Arrival Agency.
“We’re new out there,” Fazio said, adding that it was the first even they’d staged in Surrey and they realized they would likely miss some key deadlines.
“We just felt it was better to take a step back and wait a month until everything is all settled,” he said.
The festival had been scheduled to start July 5, but it is now set to launch Aug. 2, running until Aug. 30., at 104th Avenue and University Drive.
More than 15 trucks every week will offer up summertime fare during the five week fest. Among the vendors will be food carts from Surrey’s recently approved list of mobile food trucks.
Fazio said one of the things he was looking forward to most about the new festival was getting a chance to see the Surrey vendors work alongside some of Vancouver’s seasoned veterans.
“We see it as a real big brother, little brother kind of thing,” he said.
PORTLAND, Ore. – It’s meatball day at The Italian Market in S.E. Portland. That means co-owner Andrew Vidulich will have to make sure 400 meatballs are ready to go at this food cart, which uses propane.
He is from the Philadelphia area, and saw the video of the food truck propane explosion in that city.
“Pretty scary,” said Vidulich. “Makes me wonder if we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re safe here. Maybe I’ll be calling the fire marshal to make sure we have everything where it should be.”
Portland Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Marshal Doug Jones said food cart owners have to apply for and receive a propane tank permit every year. He said they receive information at that time about how to use propane tanks safely, for example, keeping the tanks on the outside of the cart, not on the inside.
He said if a tank is inside and it leaks, the propane could stay inside the cart and get into people’s clothes. Cooking could then ignite the gas and cause an explosion.
“The food cart’s going to come apart. But also it’s going to ignite all the propane that’s permeated the clothing of the individuals. And survival in that type of situation, the odds aren’t good,” said Jones.
Jones also said propane tanks should be secured on carts, because a tank that tips over and knocks off its valve could effectively become a missile as the gas shoots out.
Plus, he said cart owners—and anyone who uses propane tanks for barbecues—should check regularly for leaks, putting liquid soap on possible leak areas and watching for bubbles, the sign of a leak.
Jones said his staff will do spot checks on propane tanks and other issues at food carts, but they do not have enough people to check on every propane tank at every food cart every year.
He said they rely on cart owners to monitor their own safety, and have not had problems with propane fires or explosions at food carts in recent history.
“That’s the primary way that we’re reaching out to people on propane safety, is education,” said Jones.
You will see hundreds of food carts in Portland, but fewer actual food trucks, on wheels, like the truck that exploded in Philadelphia.
Jones said there appears to be a grey area with propane tanks on food trucks, in that they are not regulated in the same way as propane tanks on food carts. He said the fire marshal’s office does not provide permits for or do spot checks on them, because food trucks are road vehicles.
The Problem Solvers checked with the Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation, and both said they did not regulate food truck propane tanks.
“Street-side food vending trucks are exempt from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations if the gross weight of the propane cylinder is less than 220 pounds, up to a total gross weight limit of 440 pounds per vehicle,” said Duane DeBruyne with the Department of Transportation.
Jones said people in the Portland area are much more likely to be hurt with propane from a backyard barbecue grill than from a food cart or truck propane tank problem.
Vidulich said the explosion in Philadelphia, though scary, should not keep people away from food carts.
“Having a cart’s great and it’s great for cities and communities,” said Vidulich. “Hope this doesn’t set it back, and people are afraid of them in their neighborhood or nervous to open one themselves,” said Vidulich.
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.