In today’s Post, Carla Spartos (who might just be spending too much time with Steve Cuozzo) rants against the “twee-ification” of street food, targeting the new Bistro Truck and Schnitzel & Things when she writes, “Just as we’d prefer not to be served Hot Pockets for lunch at Jean Georges, there are certain items we’d rather not eat from a food truck — cod schnitzel, quiche Lorraine, and crème brülée, among them.” She admits that they serve decent food (in fact, the Bistro Truck’s Nutella crêpe is “outrageously good”), but she doesn’t like the “annoying Twitter feeds” (okay, so don’t subscribe to them?), the erratic schedules, the relatively high prices (“quite reasonable for restaurant — but not truck — food”), and the fact that you can’t have a beer with your food (just brown-bag it if it’s so important?) and have to eat it on a park bench, next to some icky homeless guy. As you can imagine, the trucks are not happy about this.
The Big Gay Ice Cream truck tweets: “Dear NY Post: You don't get it. Is it not possible to CARRY YOUR SCHNITZEL BACK TO YOUR OFFICE?” And the Schnitzel Truck, in contrast to its recent giddiness over its Times profile, had this to say: “I guess there IS a reason why nobody buys the crappy NY Post these days! Come by the truck and we will reveal the answer!” And perhaps harshest of all, from Wafels & Dinges: “Carla Spartos from the NY Post — please — get a life. Or get a job where they don't let you randomly spew venom at food-truck entrepreneurs.”
Until now, food trucks have faced opposition from local businesses and from competitors, but they’ve mostly had the media on their side. But there’s evidence that a backlash is brewing: A recent Midtown Lunch post tried to teach the new trucks some etiquette. The post was in response to a Schnitzel tweet: “Halal guys really did try to put up a good fight, but in the end they were overpowered by our schnitzel strength!! :))) Had altercation! :))” It turns out, the truck, by trying to park on blocks that other vendors consider theirs, has gotten into arguments involving death threats and calls to the police. Says the Schnitzel Truck in the comments:
I also support the “old-school vendors” and respect the fact that they built up their spots over years, but that doesn’t mean that they OWN a block and I can’t park there!! If you guys only knew the conditions your halal food is being prepared in, I don’t think most of you would ever eat at these places again!
Hmmm — seems like a low blow. Anyway, Midtown Lunch points out that these schnitzel altercations might be happening because the truck moves around a lot instead of staking a claim on one fixed spot where it could build business according to the old-school rules of street vending. Writes Midtown Lunch:
New-school vendors can’t allow Twitter to make them complacent. Don’t think, “Hey, I can just move from space to space every single day and twitter my location.” To build a successful street-vending business you need to find a good spot (or spots) and stick with it — through the good and bad. The longer you park in a space, the more you become part of the surrounding community. You get to know the businesses around you and help them to embrace you. It’s what the old-school street vendors have been doing for years, and it’s part of the reason why they go to such great lengths to protect the status quo.
Is Midtown Lunch just being a backseat driver, or does it have a legitimate point about what Carla Spartos would call the truck’s “annoying Twitter feed”? (And, yes, it’s a little annoying — we don’t need to know that the Schnitzel Truck is backstage at Depeche Mode, mmmkay?) Now that food trucks are becoming less cute and more calculated (the guy behind the Kogi truck is starting a full-blown consulting business in hopes of continuing the “truck mania,” according to the Los Angeles Times today), have we officially gotten sick of them? Or is this just a writer trying to whip up attention? (If so, the story is already a success. Wined and Dined tweets: “NYPost’s Carla Spartos gets it all wrong in anti-food-truck article.We’re seeing the evolution of street food. Why limit to hot dogs & halal?”) After all, if the food is admittedly good, and it’s $1 less than at the restaurant (as is the case with Le Gamin’s truck), should we really be complaining?