Things have looked dire for the Red Hook vendors for much of the summer, with first the Parks Department and then the Department of Health threatening their future. As Porkchop Express reported last week, the DOH popped in for a surprise inspection and was shocked — shocked! — to find no running water there. So will the situation be remedied by this weekend, when inspectors are rumored to show up again? Doubtful, says vendor representative Cesar Fuentes. “They want us to have hot and cold running water, a refrigerated truck to store food in, all the food prepared either in a restaurant or in a DOH-approved preparation facility, and a lot of other things.”
The Health Department, perhaps wary of PR blowback, has tried to use kid gloves with the vendors, offering free food training courses and advice rather than summonses. But Saturday’s visit might be too much for the DOH and the low-tech vendors will have to take their coolers and grills away. “The improvements they want can only be done with a big capital project. That’s not what we are. That’s why people are drawn here.” We feel you, Cesar. What’s a few degrees of refrigeration between friends? But if the DOH didn’t spare poor old Dom DeMarco, we doubt the love of Brooklyn will weigh much more heavily with them. Like so much else good in Red Hook, the vendors seem to be in their twilight, and there’s nothing anyone not named Michael J. Bloomberg can do about it.