Food cart turf war escalating in NYC

September 8, 2009 2:54:28 PM PDT
A turf war is escalating between food vendors on the streets of Manhattan. The competition is so intense, some vendors are resorting to dirty tricks, vandalism and even violence. In Midtown, one incident was evan captured on video tape and posted on the internet.

Edgar Flores loves competition. He competes with food quality, cost and service. But he says other vendors don't feel the same.

Flores says his competitors harrass his coworkers and vandalize their Mexican food truck at the corner of West 43rd Street and 6th Avenue, hoping they'll leave.

"We just try to make the best of it," he said. "Our customers know us. They like our food."

The turf war got ugly three weeks ago, when dozens clashed on the curb. The heated argument was caught on cell phone video and posted on the Web site MidtownLunch.com.

"The lady, she got on the cart and started screaming she didn't want us here," Flores said.

Security guards stepped in as two men got in each other's faces and one man shoved the other to the ground.

Erez Ella says someone vandilized his cart too. He moved his Kosher Oasis food cart three times, finally ending up at 47th Street and 7th Avenue.

"It's hard to explain," Ella said. "They come as a group and they try to scare you."

Neither Flores nor Ella would point the finger, because they're worried about retalitation. They say police officers are keeping an eye out, but the vendors don't want to file an official report with the health or police departments.

"We really don't want to hurt no one's business," Flores said. "Everybody eats off of this. We should be able to work peacefully."

"It's a living," Ella said. "Family. Support. That's all we're trying to do. We're not trying to get rich. Nobody is going to get rich. We just want to work."

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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