clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About NYC Street Carts

Back in the 1800's, oysters cost just six cents.

Facebook
Street vendors selling everything from bagels to hot dogs to oysters have been roving the streets of New York for more than 200 years. This weekend, The New York Post took a look back at how those carts got started and how things have changed for their operators. Here are 7 facts about carts you might not have known.

1.Today, vending licenses from the city costs $200 for two years, but they are virtually never sold at that price, rather, like taxi medallions, licenses are sold on the black market. Vendors pay between $15,000 and $25,000 to "lease" a permit from a permit owner.

2. Since Ed Koch was mayor (1978-1989) the city has handed out just 2,800 licenses, with an additional 1,000 being given out during the summer. There are also 1,000 green-cart permits and separate permits for vets and the disabled.

3. Cart workers are required to take a day-long class to get a license, and there's an extra permit required for those who want to sell "frozen desserts."

4. When food trucks hit the scene, some vendors arrived as early as 2 a.m. to stake out their territory. Related: parking tickets are common. One vendor reported paying the city $12,000 in parking tickets.

5. It's not just parking, tickets of many varieties are common for street vendors. They're given by police officers who often don't know the regulations, since the city doesn't currently maintain a task force to monitor street carts. Consequently lots of those tickets are dismissed in court — last year, 5,266 of the 19,924 tickets to be exact.

6. Belgian native Thomas DeGeest, launched Wafels & Dinges, which he calls the city's "first non traditional gourmet" food truck eight years ago. He now operates two trucks, five carts, two park kiosks, and one brick and mortar shop. Though, he's moved away from the food truck model because of all of the headaches related to them.

7. Many vendors actually want the city to provide inspections and impose letter grades on trucks as they do on brick and mortar restaurants.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater New York newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world