Vending Beyond the Street: de Royal Dinges Factory

One of the amazing things about mobile food vendors is how much they are able to cram into a tiny curbside kitchen – they’re bristling with compartments meticulously arranged to deliver and often complex menu to customers quickly and efficiently.

But what you see on the street is often only a fraction of the operation.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to visit de Royal Dinges Factory, home base of Wafels & Dinges, who’s unmistakable fleet of bright yellow food carts and trucks can spotted all over the city.  They are a featured stop on almost all of our Food Cart Tours of Midtown and the Financial District, and they have been a great partner over the years.  Company founder Thomas DeGeest and manager Sophie Grant led me and some other food writers on a tour of their commissary and kitchen, located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where we got to see how the dinges gets made, so to speak.>> Continue reading

National Geographic Intelligent Travel: Hyper-Local Tours in NYC

National Geographic Intelligent Travel, April 4, 2013

by Rainer Jenss

[T]his very atypical tour was well worth the effort — for my family, and for others who want to dig a little deeper while they’re in New York. Best of all, if you’re in the city with the kids, besides maybe saving you some money, you won’t have to worry about finding a family-friendly restaurant and keeping the kids entertained – at least for one afternoon.

>> Read More

Vendy Awards Roll into New Orleans March 13

On this wintry Friday in New York City, our thoughts are with the many street vendors slinging hot dogs and chicken over rice in the snow and slush.  But we are also daydreaming of milder climes, where vendors don’t need to warm themselves by the flattop, and ungloved fingers aren’t frozen making change.  That magical place is New Orleans, host to the latest installment of the Vendy Awards, taking place Wednesday, March 13.>> Continue reading

Our Day at City Hall: Council Approves Package of Street Vendor Measures

As promised, Wednesday was an inspiring day, the culmination of years of hard work and campaigning by our partners, vendors, and friends. Though a seemingly small piece of legislation was approved by the New York City Council (and it’s not law yet, as the mayor has promised to veto it), it is something that will have a real impact on the lives of thousands of workers in this city, and the proceedings brought attention to important issues that usually get little public notice.

Our team members Cindy VandenBosch, Rich Garr, Andrew Gustafson, and Brian Hoffman were on hand for the session, though we saw them from slightly different vantage points – Cindy and Rich, from inside the City Council chamber, amidst vendors and supporters; Andrew and Brian, from the sidewalk outside the City Hall gates, then Andrew from an office computer via streaming video.>> Continue reading

City Council Set to Vote to Lower Fines on Street Vendors

Wednesday is a big day for New York City’s street vendors.  After months of stalling, the speaker of the City Council (and mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn has finally promised to bring to a vote legislation to reduce and simplify fines imposed on vendors.  This vote comes after years of campaigning and lobbying by the Street Vendor Project, including months of plastering posters with Speaker Quinn’s face on carts across the city to pressure her to call the vote.>> Continue reading

Street Vendors Need Lower Fines, Not Shake Downs from City

Visitors standing in front of food cart in winter

A small item in the mayor’s draft budget that was released today caught our attention, because it may have big impacts on the street vendors we work with. Mayor Bloomberg wants to try to collect the millions of dollars in unpaid fines issued to vendors, and he wants to do it by spending $580,000 of city money on lawyers to pursue these so-called scofflaws. What he fails to grasp is the reason why so many fines go unpaid – it’s usually due to poverty and discrimination, not disrespect for the law (read more about this proposal on Gothamist).>> Continue reading

Celebrate the Season: Our Favorite Holiday Songs

Last night Cindy and I kicked off our holiday season by decorating our tree, baking some treats, and turning the iTunes music library to “Christmas – shuffle.” Many of the songs you’ll find on that playlist we have learned about, and come to love, from our experiences researching, developing, and giving tours in New York. From Mexican hymns to Trinidadian party anthems, we have incorporated many of the diverse sounds, tastes, and traditions found in this city into our own household celebration of the season. Here are just some of our favorites:>> Continue reading

Food to Eat Hosts a Downtown Relief Food Crawl

Our friends at Food to Eat, an online ordering service for food carts and trucks, have been very involved with both street vendors and restaurants – from both a business standpoint and as advocates. This weekend they’re helping out many restaurants who suffered losses and damages from Hurricane Sandy.

Their Downtown Relief Food Crawl will take place this Saturday, November 17 from 12pm to 4pm. Participants can purchase tickets online here or at a registration location on Saturday. Food crawlers will receive a map of the participating venues, including East Village favorites like Maharlika, Prohibition Cupcakes, and Cafecito, where they can sample one of their specialty food or drink items. After many hours of eating and drinking, an after party with entertainment will commence at Kafana from 3-4. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the venues to help them with their business recoveries. For more information on this delicious and worthwhile event, check out their Eventbrite page.>> Continue reading

Food Trucks Helping Communities Recover from Sandy

Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp

As we all know by now, the actual wind, rain, and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy this weekend were only the beginning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, and whole swaths of neighborhoods have been destroyed. As the weather gets colder this week, it’s more important than ever for those without shelter and power to get hot meals.

Thanks to the New York City Food Truck Association, along with generous help from JetBlue, a number of New York’s best food trucks have been able to provide hot meals to people in need, despite gas shortages and limited road service. Last week, trucks started appearing to donate food to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan that were still without power, and they served over 20,000 meals. But as news reports started coming in about the massive devastation in areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways, the food trucks turned their engines to the communities that needed it most.>> Continue reading

Turnstile Tours at the 2012 Vendy Awards [Video]

As a street vendor we know likes to say, “Food is love.” If that’s so, then the Vendy Awards are a massive, jubilant, gut-busting celebration of that love. Each year, vendors from across New York City are brought to Governors Island not so much to compete, but the share their food and stand up for their rights (though winning the coveted Vendy Cup is a big, big deal – just ask the winners). The event’s sponsor, the Street Vendor Project, which provides advocacy and legal services to vendors, tries to bring together vendors of all backgrounds – humble, immigrant-owned carts from the outer boroughs stand beside slick, high-flying gourmet trucks. And everybody spends the day eating until they can hardly move.>> Continue reading