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NYPD Isn’t Easing Up On Street Food Vendors Despite Ongoing Crisis

“A $65 ticket isn’t going to break us, but it shows a lack of compassion. These officers know what we’re going through.”

A hand holds a ticket for a missing permit. In the background, a bright blue letter A gleams on a food sanitation placard. Adam Disilvestro

Despite New York City’s food vendor facing plummeting sales and lower foot traffic, an Italian food truck in Midtown is now reportedly facing a ticket from a traffic agent. “It’s inhumane,” says owner Adam Disilvestro.

The stretch of 41st Street that’s Disilvestro’s truck DiSO’S Italian Sandwich Society is parked on is typically busy with Midtown workers at 1:39 p.m., but this afternoon the only people on the block were Adam, his staff, and two NYPD traffic agents. Disilvestro says the agents approached his parked food truck “around 1:30 p.m.” and asked to see his mobile food vending permit, something he has “not once been asked in his seven years of business.”

Disilvestro did not have his food permit paperwork with him. He says he directed the agent’s attention to the permit and letter grade displayed on his window but was reportedly fined $65 anyways for not having the paperwork. “A $65 ticket isn’t going to break us, but it shows a lack of compassion,” Disilvestro says. “These officers know what we’re going through.”

A spokesperson for the NYPD tells Eater officers haven’t been asked to ease up on enforcement in light of the ongoing novel coronavirus crisis, so vendors would be fined if they didn’t have the right paperwork.

Mohamed Attia, head of the Street Vendor Project, a local non-profit that includes 2,300 vendors across the city, called the ticket an “absolutely inhumane treatment of essential frontline workers trying to survive this health and financial crisis.” Earlier this week, his organization called on city officials to take a series of actions to protect vendors, including the immediate suspension of street vendor compliance violation fines. Eater has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.

DiSO’S has been serving lunch on 41st Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, for the last seven years. While many of the other food trucks typically parked on the block have opted to stay home, Disilvestro says that DiSO’S has been serving takeout sandwiches all week, often making only $200 a day.

“Business has dropped 80 to 90 percent because there’s no one out here ,” Disilvestro says. “Everyone on staff has already taken hour and pay cuts. I’m just trying to help my guys make a little extra money.”

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