The Urban County Council is considering extending a pilot program to allow food trucks in certain areas of downtown Lexington.
Council in June approved a six-month pilot program allowing food trucks in six downtown zones.
During Thursday’s meeting, council gave first reading to an ordinance that would extend the program until March 2014. A final vote will be taken Tuesday. Additionally, the council wanted to review the program more thoroughly during a February economic development committee.
Councilwoman Shevawn Akers, who pushed for the creation of the pilot program, said there have been no parking or other violations issued to the vendors who have been participating.
But several council members said they felt that the community should have more opportunity to provide feedback on the food truck program before the program is extended.
Council members Ed Lane, Harry Clarke and Akers voted against the three-month extension because they wanted to extend the program until December 2014. “People are always talking about how good the food is,” said Lane said, noting that he had received no complaints about the program.
Sean Tibbetts, president of the Bluegrass Food Truck Association, said that the pilot program has proven to be successful. “We went six months with no complaints,” Tibbetts said. “”How many months do we have to prove ourselves?”
Only four vendors have been participating in the pilot program. Two key factors limited participation, Tibbetts said.
One issue was restrictions that the Lexington Parking Authority, which controls parking in Lexington, placed on the program. The authority allowed the trucks to park only at metered spots for two hours between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. That was not enough time for a lunch set up and tear down for most food trucks, Tibbetts said.
Also, Tibbetts said there was confusion about whether food truck operators had to post a $500 bond every year or only during the first year of operation. That also gave a lot of food trucks pause before participating in the program.
Food vendors said despite the limited participation in the program, they want it to continue.
“We’re just thankful that the city has been willing to work with us,” said Jason Cullen, who runs Cullen Carts, a hotdog stand. “I hope that it can be a success.”
Tibbetts, who also owns Cluckin’ Burgers, said extending the pilot program will give the group an opportunity to work with the parking authority to extend the amount of time they can spend at metered spots in the six zones where food trucks are allowed to operate.
The Bluegrass Food Truck Association negotiated a lease with Chase bank on Main Street, where food trucks have routinely served food since August. That allows the food trucks to be downtown longer than two hours, Tibbetts said.
Cullen said that many food trucks and carts were already booked when the pilot program began. Giving the pilot program additional time may result in more food trucks participating, Cullen said.
Robin Feeney, manager of the Town Branch Market, across from the Chase Bank plaza, said she would prefer that the food trucks were not parked within 50 feet of the grocer and deli’s front door. “It just seems that there needs to be a level playing field,” Feeney said. “I don’t see the point of an ordinance if they can get a lease on private property.”
Trucks are allowed anywhere in downtown Lexington after 5 p.m. as long as they are 100 feet or more from an open business or a residential area.
Tibbetts said that although there has been limited participation in the pilot program, food trucks have taken off in the Bluegrass. The association began in July with only four members. Today, it has 24. Lexington was recently named the seventh-best city in which to run a food truck.
Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.
- BOOTY’S STREET FOOD
In a move that’s more Silicon Valley than Ninth Ward, Booty’s Street Food, the Bywater’s go-to source for jet-setting cuisine, is now accepting payment in Bitcoins. In doing so, it becomes the first restaurant in New Orleans to embrace the new electronic currency.
For those who aren’t aware of the new payment method, Bitcoin is an open source peer-to-peer electronic money and payment network introduced in 2009 by pseudonymous developer “Satoshi Nakamoto.” Users purchase Bitcoins online, and then use a QR scanner to facilitate payment, often via a smartphone. The setup allows users to pay for goods and services without going through traditional banks and credit card companies, thus avoiding the fees and regulations applicable therein. According to the Booty’s website:
We’re enthusiastically allowing guests to pay with Bitcoin for three reasons: 1) Credit card processing fees eat up a significant amount of our revenue each month and offering a lower-fee way to pay means that we can pass on our higher profitability to customers; 2) Alternatives to our current financial system are intriguing to explore, especially as we see ourselves as a community business serving our neighbors; and 3) We’re nerds and we’re proud of it.
Booty’s owners Nick Vivion and Kevin Farrell are quick to note that they’re unsure whether or not this new venture will pan out. If it does, they might be setting a trend for other local restaurants and businesses, especially when it comes to tourism.
When the news of Booty’s Bitcoin move made it on reddit.com, user kajunkennyg noted that it would “Be really awesome to be able to go party on bourbon and not have to worry about carrying a wallet. Just a locked cell phone and my btc app to get wasted! Checkmate pickpockets!”
Only time will tell if Bitcoin will be a boon for Booty’s, and whether the controversial currency will spread to other outlets in the city. But for now, those eager to test out their Bitcoin wallets can do so on the Bywater restaurant’s Belgian frites, ramen noodles, yuca mofongo and fresh fruit daiquiris.
But now, Indian officials have a stern message for these often-unregulated roadside chefs: Wash your hands after using the toilet. Don’t sneeze into the food. And, above all, please don’t pick your nose.
“A lot of street food guys are not very scrupulous,” said Tejinder Singh, 48, who serves up spicy black lentils known as daal makhani from a stand in New Delhi. “We are not sons of gods. We have a lot to learn.”
Singh was among about 500 vendors who took part in an October training seminar in New Delhi on the basics of food safety and hygiene, an attempt to curtail the infamous “Delhi belly” that has struck down many an adventurous snacker in India.
Launched by India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority and the National Association of Street Vendors of India, the seminar offered a primer on safe drinking water and disposable gloves, along with a list of food-handling do’s and don’ts.
Number one on the forbidden list? Don’t pick your nose. Also banned are cleaning one’s ears, smoking while handling food and spitting into the wash basin or sink.
The goal of the program is to create “safe zones” in popular areas, but is it really possible to sanitize street food in India, where suspending any fastidious concern for hygiene has always been part of the deal?
Many Indians already have ways of finding the freshest and most succulent chaat, the small plates of savory snacks sold on the streets.
Dharm Singh, an 18-year-old high school student in New Delhi, said he only goes to places recommended by others and where there are no flies on the food.
He also pays special attention to where the vendors wash their utensils. He learned that lesson the hard way, through a brutal stomach infection he contracted by eating chole bhature, a dish of spicy chickpeas, from a vendor who used dirty dishes.
“He washes his utensils right next to the sewer,” said Singh, who was tucking into a plate of lentils, cucumbers and warm bread known as roti on a recent afternoon. “I was sick for a week.”
Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction.
For Maryland native Casey Murray, that gentle prodding came in the form of an old friend asking him if he’d want to borrow his coveted Lang Model 60, one behemoth of a mobile smoker big enough to brown 200 pounds of meat and then some.
“I can put more on it if I need to,” says Murray, who opened his Smoke Ring BBQ food truck on the property of Apocalypse Ale Works in Forest earlier this year. “And it’s not just putting something in the oven for a few minutes; it’s eight to 12 hours of cooking and monitoring the temperature. You’re actually building a fire. Everything about it is fun.”
America’s love of fork-tender meat started not long after the first settlers arrived, due, in large part, to the substantial availability of pork. Since then, the industry has spawned several schools of thought, depending on the particular region and method of preparation, which more often than not boils down to the sauce that’s served.
Kansas City’s is a classic sweet, tomato-based affair. In South Carolina joints, from Columbia to Charleston, a tangy, mustardy blend is king. Most North Carolinians boast a peppery, vinegar-laced mix. Across the state, Tennesseans spike their sauce with a little whiskey, while Memphis purists go for a simple, spiced dry-rub, and so on.
But Murray prefers to let his oak-flavored pork do the talking.
“I try to do my own thing,” says the 28-year-old. “I put my homemade rub on it and smoke it and then I have the different sauces, if people want them. I also have my house sauce. It’s kind of a mix of everything. … I don’t really have any written down recipes for what I do. I just started mixing stuff together and eventually they tasted good.”
With a thick, auburn-colored beard that stretches nearly a foot below his chinny-chin-chin, Murray might look like a guy who’d labor over a balmy smoker for hours on end, but he actually is more of a computer whiz, having worked in Liberty University’s IT department since 2005.
A decade ago, he moved to Lynchburg from his home city of Rockville — which sits just outside of D.C. and is located in central Montgomery County or “Mo Co” as he calls it — to study aviation at LU, where he wound up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in information systems and later earned his masters in business management.
After getting his hands on the trusty Lang Model 60 last year, it was only a matter of time before he rustled up the rest of his supplies.
“Within a week, I found all the equipment online, and dirt cheap,” Murray says. “I was like, ‘This is meant to be.’ The next month, I had my business plan. A week before we opened, my friends and I were painting the truck. It was last minute, but we did it.”
He chose a 1974 rust-colored Chevrolet Step Van to house his café on wheels, joining a growing nationwide trend that finds established eateries nosing into line alongside vehicles run by streetwise-renegade chefs.
Whether he’s serving exotic fare or edgier, less sophisticated grub doesn’t seem to bother Dallas Moss, a Hill City native and frequent destroyer of Smoke Ring’s signature Pork Bomb sandwich — a colossal feast of pulled pork, smoked bacon and smoked mac ‘n’ cheese.
“I literally wake up salivating on Saturdays from the first stomach grumble, absolutely craving [one] smothered in Casey’s tangy homemade barbecue sauce,” Moss says. “It blows my mind every time.”
Other menu items include smoked potato salad — which Murray describes as a cross between the traditional variety and a loaded baked potato — smoked baked beans, homemade coleslaw and the occasional smoked chicken wings special.
“Everything is in the smoker, except the coleslaw, obviously,” Murray says, laughing. “I have smoked cabbage before, though. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I did smoked corn beef and cabbage and made sandwiches out of that. They were pretty awesome.”
If that’s not enough to wet your taste buds, you might want to try pairing a Smoke Ring specialty with one of Apocalypse Ale Works’ carefully crafted ales, a practice Bedford County resident Josiah Tillett savors on occasion.
“If it’s pulled-pork, I know it’s been cooked for a long time, and it’s going to be really good,” he says. “I’ve had [Casey’s] at least half a dozen times. During the summer, I’d normally get the wheat beer, the Golden Censer with it. Now that it’s getting colder and everything, I like something a bit darker, so I get the Lustful Maiden, you know, the Belgian. That’s the way to go.”
In March, the 30-year-old ex-corporate financier was “circumstantially forced to exit” Phoenix to attend to family matters in his home state of Virginia, leaving his mobile kitchen of Chinese soul food to sit in storage — something it hadn’t done since the business was launched in November 2012. This week, Lau came back to the city to stay and says he’ll be rolling out a new and improved Hao Bao in the upcoming weeks.
“There was such a show of support from our followers and other small-business owners when I left,” Lau tells me. “I feel like I’m coming back to a warm welcome.”
What can food truck fans expect to find at Hao Bao 1.1? Think healthy.
Lau tells me that along with crowd favorites such as his handmade dumplings, beef noodle soup, Chinese noodle salad, and street treats, he’ll be slowly introducing some new items (think pickled veggies and veggie-stuffed dumplings) that focus on “healthy, more veggie-friendly food that’s still authentic Chinese.”
And this time he’s staffing up as well, adding people to help out during the busy times and “to be there in case I can’t be.”
Even though it’s only been a handful of months since he returned, Lau notes the Valley’s food truck scene is continuing to improve, with strides being made from a logistical standpoint (more organized events) as well as in exposure (five food trucks were filmed last month for Eat St., the show about street food on the Cooking Channel).
“We’re one of the youngest food truck markets in the country,” Lau says. “We’re still going through growing pains and there’s always room for improvement. I hope Hao Bao can play a role in that positive change.”
Lao will be doing soft re-launches of Hao Bao in the upcoming days and hopes to formally grand open in mid-December. For more details and to find out where Hao Bao will be next, follow them on Facebook.
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, Phoenix, AZ
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Montgomery’s first food truck will serve lunch to downtown goers this week after winning the city’s food truck competition.
Montgomery Super Suppers will host a soft opening on Friday for those looking to be the first to sample their menu.
The food truck won the right to use space in the lot at Madison Avenue and Jackson Street, where the State House Inn was formally located, earlier this year.
Nick and Davina Jernigan, owners of Montgomery Super Suppers, have been serving food to Montgomery residents for more than three years from their Vaughn Road location in the Peppertree Shopping Center. The food truck will serve a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and signature drinks as well as dessert.
The soft open will run from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday. The food truck will begin regular lunch service at the Madison Avenue location in early 2014.
Here’s a lesson to kids (and parents) everywhere; don’t take Gordon Ramsay’s parking spot.
In an all-new Muppisode promoting the upcoming sequel Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang are out enjoying different food truck options. The Swedish Chef gets his felt hand in on the action. Only problem is, when Ramsay arrives, he’s in his spot! What’s the only way to solve a problem like this?
Well, sort of. Watch the epic food truck battle below:
Muppets Most Wanted will be released in theaters on March 21.
I’ll admit it. I was wrong about food trucks.
When the first of the new generation of food trucks rolled onto the streets of St. Louis a few years ago, I was curious — even excited. Not because we were embracing a trend that had already spread through “hipper” cities. Rather, I liked that several of these trucks were experimenting with concepts worth seeking out on their own merits: the pan-Latin flavors of Cha Cha Chow; the Korean-Mexican fusion of Seoul Taco; the creative Filipino fare of Guerrilla Street Food.
Yet as the number of food trucks proliferated in 2011 and 2012, from the teens into the 20s and then into the 30s, I was certain the bubble was about to burst.
The city itself has precious few public spaces where food trucks can operate legally. Newly licensed truck operators receive a map of the approved downtown vending zone. A shaded circle denotes the no-go zone, which extends in a 200-foot radius from each brick-and-mortar restaurant. The circles cover most of the vending zone.
“Every time a new restaurant opens,” says Guerrilla Street Food owner Joel Crespo, “they draw a new circle.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis County presented a hodge-podge of rules. Some municipalities welcomed food trucks. Others — Clayton, most notably, given its bustling lunch crowd — did not (and do not) allow them.
Which is to say nothing of how many of those 30-something food trucks were actually any good. Surely, I thought, once the novelty has worn off, once the trucks must face a prolonged spell of bitter winter weather, the Great Food Truck Reckoning would be upon us, and only a few hardy souls would survive.
Instead, as 2013 draws to a close, I count more than 40 food trucks operating in the St. Louis area.
Though the number of public spaces in the city remains small, Cha Cha Chow co-owner Kandace Davis says the atmosphere of conflict that had prompted restaurant owners to call the police on trucks infringing the no-go zones has largely passed.
“That’s much better,” she says. “We’ve hopped over most of the hurdles.”
Still, the crush of trucks in the city vying for both the approved public spaces and such popular gathering spots as the Wells Fargo campus in midtown and Barnes-Jewish Hospital has forced food-truck operators to look to new markets.
“The city is inundated,” Davis says. “But there are places in the county where you go to find people who’ve never had a single food truck.”
“A lot of people are going into the county more,” says Crespo. “We survive a lot because of the county.”
Rather than deal with the regulations of a specific county municipality, truck operators rely on being invited onto the private property of a specific office building or a business park that is home to several different companies.
Josh Lemmon has operated his Burger Ink. truck solely in St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The appeal is obvious, he says. At a business where he has been invited or has requested permission to serve, “I’m guaranteed to be the only truck.”
Crespo says even at business parks, Guerrilla Street Food can attract new customers from the general public. At one of the truck’s favorite spots, Corporate Hill near Manchester Road and Interstate 270, he figures the truck draws as many drive-up customers as it does from the business park itself.
The drivers, he says, “don’t work near where the trucks usually go.”
A few trucks have expanded into brick-and-mortar operations: the Sweet Divine in Soulard; Seoul Taco in the Delmar Loop; and Hot Aztec in Fenton. For Burger Ink.’s Lemmon, an actual restaurant was the goal all along.
“I’ve been wanting to do a restaurant since I was 8 years old,” he says. His chefs at culinary school “came to me and said I should start out smaller.”
Finally, Lemmon will open his restaurant early next year in Wentzville. He isn’t ready to reveal the exact location yet.
Crespo and his business partner, Brian Hardesty, have been eyeing a brick-and-mortar location for some time. (A recent crowdfunding effort to raise money toward a storefront fell short of its goal.)
The appeal of a restaurant is financial and logistical. The truck currently rents commissary space from a local restaurant, and while the relationship is a good one, Crespo says, “You don’t want to be in the way. You don’t want to impose.”
What’s more, he says, “We want to start a second food truck, and it doesn’t make sense to rent [commissary space] from two different kitchens.”
And, of course, a brick-and-mortar operation would address one of the main challenges every food truck must face: how to deal with the inevitable downturn in business when winter arrives.
A Guerrilla Street Food restaurant “just seems like the next step,” Crespo says. With the truck, “we could skate along and just get by, but obviously no one wants to just get by.”
NOW SERVING IN STL
More than 40 food trucks now operate in the St. Louis area. Here’s a rundown of what’s served, along with the trucks’ Twitter handles, where you can find their locations:
2 Girls 4 Wheels (@2Girls4Wheels): A St. Louis spin on lunchtime favorites, including a cheesesteak with Provel and brats braised in Budweiser.
Andrew’s Bayou Ribs (@bayouribs): An assortment of barbecue, including ribs, rib tips, hot links and pork steaks.
Baked Loaded (@BakedLoaded): A refurbished school bus with a unique specialty: “wraps” made of baked shredded potato topped with various meats, vegetables and sauces.
Bombay Food Junkies (@bombayfoodtruck): The vegetarian street fare of the truck’s namesake city. Vada pav, a deep-fried patty of spicy mashed potatoes in chickpea flour, is a signature dish.
Brazil Express by Yemanja (@YemanjaBrazil): Kebabs, empanadas and more Brazilian fare from the Benton Park restaurant Yemanja Brasil.
Burger Ink. (@BurgerInk): Burgers with various toppings. The truck operates mostly in St. Louis County. A brick-and-mortar location is in the works.
Cha Cha Chow (@whereschacha): Latin American-influenced tacos, including curried sweet potato, pulled pork and beef short rib with red cabbage-lime slaw.
The Cheese Shack (@cheeseshack_stl): A rotating menu of such grilled-cheese sandwiches as the Big Pig (pulled pork, mac and cheese, and slices of cheddar cheese).
Chop Shop (@ChopShopSTL): Burrito-size sushi rolls from Eliott Harris, who won acclaim as sushi chef at Miso on Meramec.
Completely Sauced (@saucedonwheels): A variety of Cajun and Creole dishes, including po’ boys, jambalaya, crab cakes, gumbo and beignets.
Curbside Cookery (@CurbsideCookery): Grilled sandwiches and burritos. Mac and cheese is and available with bacon in a waffle cone or as “nachos” with Doritos and beef or chicken.
Deli on a Roll (@DELIonaROLL): Hot and cold deli sandwiches, including cheesesteaks, kosher hot dogs and a reuben with either pastrami or corned beef.
Destination Desserts (@DessertTruckSTL): Baked goods including cupcakes and cookies. All proceeds benefit the Center for Head Injury Services.
The Fire Ice Cream Truck (@FireandIceCream): A seasonal truck — a vintage 1946 Ford firetruck, in fact — serving ice cream.
Go! Gyro! Go! (@GoGyroGo): Traditional beef and lamb gyros as well as chicken souvlaki, chicken tahini and vegetables served gyro-style.
Guerrilla Street Food (@GuerrillaStreet): Inspired riffs on Filipino cuisine. Signature dishes include chicken adobo and the Flying Pig, spicy slow-roasted pork and an egg over rice.
Holy Crepe! (@HolyCrepeSTL): Savory and sweet crepes as well as soup. Holy Crepe! actually predates the food-truck boom of 2011.
Hot Aztec (@HotAztec): Tacos, tortas and Oaxacan-style bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Hot Aztec opened a storefront at 1914 Bowles Avenue in Fenton this summer.
La Tejana Taqueria (@lttonwheels): Tacos, tortas, tamales and more from the owners of the Bridgeton taqueria of the same name.
L’Ecole Culinaire (@LeFoodTruck): A frequently changing menu from the students of the local culinary school.
Legghorn Shakes (@Legghorns): Chicken sandwiches and wraps. Also serves milkshakes. Closed for winter.
Lulu’s Local Eatery (@LulusFoodTruck): A frequently changing menu that uses local and organic ingredients as often as possible. Known for the plant beds on top of the truck itself.
The Meltdown (@TheMeltdownSTL): Grilled-cheese sandwiches both classic (nothing but American cheese) and loaded with bacon and other additions. Quesadillas and soup are also available.
My Big Fat Greek Truck (@GreekTruckSTL): Gyros — the traditional beef and lamb as well as vegetable — souvlaki and other Greek fare.
Sarah’s Cake Stop (@SarahsCakeStop): A rotating selection of cupcakes from the West County bakery Sarah’s Cake Shop.
Seoul Taco (@SeoulTaco): Spicy pork tacos and more Korean-Mexican mashup cuisine. The wildly popular truck also runs a storefront at 571 Melville Avenue in the Delmar Loop.
Shell’s Coastal Cuisine (@ShellsCoastal): Fish tacos, conch fritters, Cuban sandwiches and more Caribbean-influenced dishes.
Sia’s Italian Ice (@SiasItalianIce): Various flavors of Italian ice.
Slice of the Hill (@SliceoftheHill): Individually portioned flatbread pizzas featuring ingredients from Hill businesses.
Smoke N Motion (@SmokeNMotion): A new truck from the local barbecue competition and catering outfit Que in the Lou.
Smokin’ Monkey (@SmokinMonkeySTL): Smoked and grilled dishes including jerk chicken, duck tacos, pulled pork and shrimp “lollipops.”
Speedway Eatery (@SpeedwayEatery): Burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, shrimp po’ boys and more classic American fare.
St. Louisiana Q (@StLouisianaQ): Hot dogs and Louisiana-influenced dishes like red beans and rice and Gator Red Bean Pie (red beans and sausage on a bed of Fritos with nacho cheese).
Stely Belly (@StelyBelly): Eclectic menu including a burger, chicken gyro and German-style currywurst. Among other payment methods, Stely Belly accepts Bitcoins, a virtual currency.
Steamroller (@steamrollerstl): A variety of meat and vegetable sandwiches served on steamed bagels.
Street Life (@StreetLifeFood): Burgers, steak sandwiches, catfish and shrimp po’ boys, and more.
The Sweet Divine (@TheSweetDivine): Its cupcakes have won on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” Sweet Divine also owns a shop at 1801 South Ninth Street in Soulard.
Taco Truck STL (@TacoTruckSTL): Tacos (both traditional Mexican and Americanized), burritos, nachos and quesadillas.
Taste-D-Burger (@TasteDBurger): Burgers of the smashed-thin variety served on buttered, toasted buns.
Vincent Van Doughnut (@VinVanDoughnut): Classic American yeast doughnuts with such toppings as salted caramel, candied maple bacon and orange glaze with cranberries and white chocolate.
Walk Away Waffles (@walkawaywaffles): Belgian-style waffles from the owners of the popular Kirkwood snow-cone stand Tropical Moose.
Yo! Salsa (@JohnYolos): Fish and chicken tacos and more Mexican-inspired cuisine. Often operates in Lake Saint Louis and other exurbs.
Zia’s on the Hill (@Ziasonthehill): Sandwiches, pasta, soup and more Italian-American fare from the popular Hill restaurant Zia’s.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
The deep freeze is here and trying to stay warm can be tough if you’re out in the cold.
One group fighting the cold temperatures are food cart vendors around town.
Even though food carts are mini-kitchens, the inside of the carts can get pretty frigid on cold days.
As temperatures hover near freezing, food cart workers are braving the bone-chilling weather while working outside.
At Fuego food cart, worker Bernadette DeAngelo has no real shelter from the cold or the wind.
“It’s cold. This I call cold. I wore as many layers as I could possibly fit on while still being able to maintain burrito making,” said DeAngelo.
It’s the same frigid story down the street at food carts on Southwest Washington and Southwest Third, where workers are trying to stay huddled in their carts.
“I’ve got a grill that’s going, so that kind of keeps me warm but that’s about it,” said Thaddeus, who was working at Salmon Fusion
Keeping warm can be tough as temperatures during the day drop to the low 30s and for many that means bundling up.
“I have thermal pants, long sleeve sweater underneath, vests, boots, and wool socks,” said Bryan Veal, who was braving the cold working at Beez Neez Gourmet Sausages.
No matter how bundled up, any bit of a breeze can make things miserable.
“That’s the thing that gets you, the wind chill,” added Thaddeus.
Some have small heaters to help fight the chill, while others get cozy with their stoves.
“Definitely keep this thing going. I put my hands on it and keep your hands a little warm and I’ll hover over it too,” added Veal.
As temperatures hover near the freezing mark, many food carts are seeing fewer customers.
“It’s pretty slow today. I had one customer so far and they called it in and have yet to pick up their meal,” said Thaddeus.
We did find some customers braving the cold. Some were shivering, others were jumping in place. They were doing what they had to do to try and stay warm while waiting in line for lunch.
“Yeah, but I called ahead so that cut down the amount of time I needed to stand there shivering,” said Will Clark-Shim, who didn’t let the cold get in the way of his lunch.
That shivering will continue for the rest of the week as temperatures are expected to stay in the low 30s during the day.
Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
But decades of police crackdowns have failed to curb this enormous illegal market. When the police vanish, the vendors move back into place, hawking sliced mangoes, DVDs, flowers, bicycles and more.
So now, Los Angeles officials are preparing to embark on a very different strategy: embracing street vending.
A plan introduced last month in the City Council would legalize and regulate vendors, opening the door to the mouthwatering prospect of pork cheek street tacos that have the blessings of the county Health Department.
“Street vending is a fact of life around here,” said Jose Huizar, the city councilman behind the plan to legalize street food. “Los Angeles is good at some things, but we are behind the ball on others. We need regulations. The way it works right now, everyone loses.”
New York, Dallas and Seattle have already passed laws regulating street vending. But despite the ubiquity of “danger dogs,” the bacon-wrapped hot dogs that sizzle on sidewalk griddles outside Lakers games and concert venues, almost all street vending has remained entirely illegal here. (Food trucks, which have running water and other amenities, are legal and tightly regulated.)
Over the last several years, vendors — a huge portion of them immigrants from Latin America, many in the country illegally — have waged their most aggressive campaign yet for legal status on the city’s streets, modeling their effort on the national push to overhaul immigration laws.
As a result, the fight to legalize sidewalk peddlers goes beyond questions of commerce, offering a window on the larger debate about the place of immigrants in American culture.
Opposition to legalizing street vending remains fierce in some quarters of the city, where residents complain of blocked sidewalks, potentially unsafe food and streets littered with trash; some restaurant owners gripe that sidewalk businesses poach their customers.
“I teach my kids to wash their hands before they eat,” said Bob Richardson, a resident of East Rancho Dominguez, an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County adjacent to Los Angeles, where street vending has become more common in recent years. “I don’t know what those people do before they serve the food. I believe it’s unsafe, and it should be outlawed.”
But the current efforts to legalize street vending is evidence of a shift in attitudes toward immigrants — and street food — here in the two decades since the last major push to legalize street vending two decades ago amid an anti-immigrant fervor in the state.
These days, food aficionados and Pulitzer Prize-winning critics debate which stand serves the best $1 tacos al pastor.
“For a long time in Los Angeles, the feeling was that street vending was a third world activity, not worthy of the Anglo version of Los Angeles that emerged in the mid-20th century,” said Mark Vallianatos, an instructor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College here, who has been part of the campaign to legalize street vending.
But Latinos now make up about half of the city’s population, and an estimated one in 10 residents of Los Angeles County are immigrants in the country illegally. Mayors past and present have called vigorously for federal immigration reform, and the police chief has publicized policy changes intended to reduce deportations of illegal immigrants arrested for minor crimes.
“Now, being pro-immigrant is a winner in L.A.,” Mr. Vallianatos said. “Street food has become hip and popular all over the city, not just with low-income Latinos. People are starting to see it as part of what makes our city great.”
The vendors have tried to frame their struggle as a fight for human dignity, drawing connections with the fight for an immigration overhaul.
Backed by some of the same groups involved in that effort, like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, they are invoking the same narrative of hardworking people who want to be able to support their families without fear of random arrests and deportation.
“We are just trying to make a living,” said Guadalupe Becerril, an unauthorized immigrant, as she sold crepes and pancakes on the patch of East Los Angeles sidewalk that her cart has occupied for 10 years.
Though Ms. Becerril said she has not been arrested, the police broke up the popular unlicensed street market where she used to work and have confiscated her entire business multiple times, she said.
“My dream is that they will let us be here legally,” Ms. Becerril said.
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