Bayside business owners say mobile food vendors that are popping up in the area and setting up shop near established eateries may be carting revenue away from them.
According to Sammy An, owner of Cue Bar on Bell Boulevard, a piggybacking Halal food cart vendor’s 24-hour service has robbed him of income.
“I keep seeing people walking out [of my restaurant], spending their money there and coming back to keep drinking,” An said. “But I have the kitchen open, and it takes away revenue.”
An — who said he pays about $26,000 a month for rent — said he also finds himself picking up after messes left behind by his competitor, who surfaced less than a month ago, in order to avoid being pinned for littering.
Majid Khan, owner of the Halal stand, heavily disputed the claims.
“If they believe we’re taking business away from them, they’re wrong,” Khan said. “If people like food from the restaurant, they’re going to go to the restaurant. If people like Halal food, they’re going to get food from us. You can’t stop anyone.”
According to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11, about a dozen home and business owners have filed complaints about the rise in food carts in northeast Queens.
Amongst concerns about the uncleanliness and clutter, Seinfeld said residents are more than displeased with how the carts have harmed the aesthetics of the area.
“This is not an addition they bargained for,” she said. “They want to keep the area low density, almost suburban, with trees lining the block. People keep everything neat and clean here, and they feel the food carts are unattractive.”
Seinfeld said the problem extends outside of the borough, but within Bayside alone she said the heavy hitters are located on Northern and Bell Boulevards, 73rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard, and Springfield Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway.
According to Councilmember Mark Weprin, the City Council held hearings last week to discuss the growing issues. He said there are still “a lot of questions we’re trying to get answers to” before a real solution can be reached.
“I’m very concerned about the unfair competition these food carts create for local merchants,” he said. “There should be some limit as to where they can set up.”
John Amanatidis, owner of a grilled food stand on Northern and Bell Boulevards, said it’s all about coexisting with local businesses.
A neighborhood staple for 15 years, he said he closes up shop between 6 and 7 p.m. before the dinner rush begins at nearby restaurants.
“I leave. I respect them,” Amanatidis said. “But I have four kids. I have to pay rent, the bills and my taxes.”