Friday, December 9, 2011

Luke's Lobster Roll Food Truck Van Comes To Roosevelt Island And Gets Kicked Off By Public Safety Department - Hope They Return Soon For Restaurant Starved Roosevelt Islanders

Last Tuesday, I noticed this intriguing tweet from Luke's Lobster:
1 if by F train, 2 if by tram...Nauti () is on her way to Roosevelt Island for dinner! Grab a roll on your way home!
Followed by:
That is we are in front of Starbucks near the F stop on Roosevelt Island for dinner! Check the map !
and then:
Bad news, Roosevelt Island Police weren't fans of us, but we were fans of you. Heading towards midtown now, hopefully see you again soon.
Luke's Lobster roll is one of New York City's Best Food Truck Offerings. From Luke's Lobster:
New York & DC's freshest, most affordable lobster roll, straight from the docks of Maine. It's the only seafood roll that's traceable from the sea floor to your plate.
What happened? Was Luke's Lobster Rolls, kicked off Roosevelt Island? If so, why? I asked Luke's Lobster:
What happened with your Roosevelt Island Police encounter - they're called the Public Safety Department here?

Also, what brought you to Roosevelt Island. Food trucks don't often make it here but I think it is a great idea. Do you intend to come back to Roosevelt Island? If you wish, happy to post any info about your Roosevelt Island plans.
Luke's Lobster filled me in:
So it dawned on me one day that something like 12k people live on the island and commute home each night via subway or tram, so why not try our hand at offering our food to the population (also we heard food choices were limited). Anyway, we set up and are selling and things are going fine, until the PSO comes around and said that we had to leave, because Roosevelt Island is a private island and that our NYC city wide permit was not valid on R.I. and that we needed to go down to 591 and see Donna and the Island president? and apply for a permit, and then we'd be able to come back.

Not a big confrontation or anything but definitely a let down. Early next week I plan to go back and speak to someone about a permit because it seems like a great place where good food is needed....
On Wednesday, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez:
Does a Food Vending Truck licensed and operating in NYC need any additional permits or permissions to bring their truck and sell food on Roosevelt Island?
Mr. Martinez responded:
Yes, a food vendor will have to provide RIOC with the appropriate NYC licences and copies of insurance.  We will then issue a RIOC permit.  However, please keep in mind that we are not currently accepting any applications for street food vending.
I replied
Thanks for the response. 

Why is RIOC not currently accepting applications for food truck vending?

When do you anticipate accepting applications. 

Does it have anything to do with Master Retail Lease Agreement?
Have not received a reply back yet.

Last summer I was very happy to see a Waffles and Dingles Food Cart on Roosevelt Island

but quickly disappointed to learn that they were here only for a TV production crew.

I think it would be great to have more high quality food trucks coming to Roosevelt Island expanding our take out food options.

Hope to see Luke's Lobster Food Truck here soon!

More on Luke's Lobster restaurant and food truck from Business Insider.

UPDATE 4:50 PM - From the RIOC Board of Directors:
... the Board has placed the issue of mobile food vendors on the agenda for the next Real Estate committee meeting to develop a procedure for handling them in a uniform, and fair way.


YetAnotherRIer said...

Did that faux Mr Softee truck have a permit to sell soft-serve at the tram last summer? I hope the RIOC will get back to you and explain why no food trucks are welcome on RI.

michelle baker said...

Why was the ice cream truck allowed on the Island then all
summer? And also summer nights during saturday movie nights.

Nicolas Robine said...

 Waffles and Dingles Food Cart came for real last summer and were kicked out by RIOC, exactly the same way Luke Lobster's was. I don't know if they only came for a TV show at another time, but I am 100% sure that they came to sell, start to do so, and were kicked out. I was super disappointed because there Waffles are fantastic.And I would have love to get the lobster rolls from Luke if only I knew about it.

I don't see the point of Roosevelt Island being "private" (that can't be true...) and out of the city-wide permit for food truck. I, for one, would love to get some truck food once in a while (especially if it's Waffles and Dingles and Luke Lobsters).

Cari Bak said...

It's so aggravating to be a part of NYC and yet not. Food trucks are an awesome idea to help spice up the food options here on the island. All summer the ice cream truck parks here, why not allow more options. RIOC, you really really are missing the boat on this one...

roozevelt said...

It would be nice to have these vendors here, but I believe they have to get a Permit from RIOC.  I spoke to a RIOC Employee and the permit is like $100 bucks.  The Ice Cream Truck got one, so why can't the other vendors just go and get theirs.  The City Vendor's Permit is not valid here where there is already limited parking.  They have to get permission, but from what I hear, it's not that hard to get. 

Elle Erickson said...

Oh Man!  Yet another great idea quashed by RIOC.  What do they mean "we arent accepting applications".  That is ridiculous! 

Rob Starobin said...

This is terrible. Luke's is one of the best food trucks in the city. It's more upscale, and high quality than anything currently on the island, without interfering with real estate.

Westviewer said...

I strongly suspect that the Hudson-Related master lease agreement has something to do with this.  The ice cream vendor's permit pre-dated the agreement.  If I am correct, this is a short-sighted view of island development on the part of Hudson-Related.  More restaurants generate business for each other.

Trevre Andrews said...

This really just got to me.  Please email RIOC to give the your thoughts on this and other issues you have on the island.  I feel as if RIOC isn't listening to the island residents at all and we have no leverage to change their decision making processes.

JPH19 said...

Roosevelt Island: we must preemptively lower the quality of life.

Cynthia Schultz Hornig said...

Seriously! The RIOC need to get a life and give us all one too. A permit? Unbelievable! RI is the perfect place for food trucks and if the RIOC were smart, they would run events with the trucks every single weekend to draw more tourists to the island. I have lived here since 1979 and I cannot think of one thing the RIOC did to better the life for the residents without trying to squeeze a buck from someone. ARGH!!!!

mogensjp said...

RIOC/PSD allowed the ice cream truck to park in front of the tram station all summer, so registering for a permit must be an easy hurdle

Mark Lyon said...

This is terrible.  If anything, we should be encouraging food trucks to make RI their evening dinner stop.

CheshireKitty said...

They should permit food trucks.  It's a wasteland here otherwise (with all due respect to the established eateries - there are so few of them - after a while, you are just repeating yourself).  We were lucky the truck visited RI (at all).  The permit I think is unfair - why charge $100?  Another way to make money for RIOC? Who makes these rules - or is it a City permit that's needed?  

Frank Farance said...

Ms. Torres-

I've read in the Roosevelt Islander Blog that a mobile food vendor was asked to move:

I recognize that RIOC may control permitting on its properties, such as the sidewalk near the subway.  However, a food truck on a public street (Main Street), I believe, is outside of RIOC's control.

If a mobile food vendor complies with the NYC licensing and permitting requirements:

AND, Roosevelt Island's Main Street is *not* on the list of restricted streets for mobile food vendors:

THEN, under what authority does RIOC/PSD have the right to ask the food vendor to leave?

Finally, I note that Mr. Softee and its look-a-likes were present on Main Street at PS/IS 217, the tram, and RIOC movie nights over the summer.  Please explain the RIOC policies that permit Mr. Softee, but not other mobile food vendors.

Frank Farance
RIRA Planning Committee Chair

mogensjp said...

UPDATE 4:50 PM - From the RIOC Board of Directors:

"... the Board has placed the issue of mobile
food vendors on the agenda for the next Real Estate committee meeting to
develop a procedure for handling them in a uniform, and fair way".Since RIOC has no procedure to handle permission for food vendors in a uniform and fair way let's hope they will not resort to "exclusivity" or "sole source" privileges..

Frank Farance said...

Maybe it's possible RIOC doesn't have the authority to require permits.  RIOC has had problems like this in the past with their bogus permits for amateur photography (that would be you and me taking pictures of the tram).

If you were here in the 1980's, that is why the security booth (since removed at the top of the helix) was abandoned.  Then, RIOC would give handwritten permits for parking on the street (yeah, it really worked that way) and they were telling people they couldn't come onto the Island without providing a name/address/purpose of their visit.  This ended because someone questioned RIOC/PSD's authority to "control" us this way.  I recall it being explained at a town hall meeting: unless RIOC/PSD was arresting someone, they couldn't refuse pedestrian/driver access to the public areas like this.

Rather than RIOC trying to put this to rest by coming up with some "uniform" way of charging everyone $100, I want RIOC to demonstrate they have the right to control (regulate) these food trucks on NYC public streets.  Because if RIOC has the right to control/regulate food trucks (whose licensing is solely governed by NYC on NYC public streets), then RIOC can claim they have the right to control/regulate the car service that picks you up (again, governed by NYC), and control/regulate the kind of package delivery service you use, and so on.

Another solution is to have the mobile food vendors to park on hospital property, which isn't controlled by RIOC (and convenient for Octagon and Southtown).  Of course, it assumes that hospitals will permit their parking. :-)

Hopefully the Real Estate Committee asks their General Counsel for an opinion on whether or not RIOC has the authority to require permits for NYC-licensed mobile food vendors on NYC public streets.

mogensjp said...

I hope Frank Farance's comments/questions will cause RIOC to clarify their authority and policy.
I personally hope that RIOC have more authority to limit big trucks from the island than eliminate from the island trucks like mobile vans, and that they will concentrate on minimizing use of vehicles larger than school buses (which should turn around at the ramp).
Trucks bringing construction materials are probably essential,    but otherwise both Fresh Direct and UPS use smaller vans.
The bigger ones cannot be essential to supply the R.Island hospitals, residents and merchants and they interrupt traffic disproportionately to the services rendered.

Denise Shull said...

Surely we could be like NYC and have food carts... surely this isn't another way where we are "special".

It is beautiful here but when off-Islanders immediately notice the "NO" signs everywhere, something is seriously wrong.

YetAnotherRIer said...

What's wrong with "No dogs on the lawn" or "No parking" signs. They actually make a lot of sense and you find them everywhere (and they are getting stolen a lot less here than other places) in NYC. What other NO signs are you talking about? I am not aware if any and none of my off-island guests are aware of anything out of the ordinary.

zoilalexie said...

Frank, I am convinced that you should start your own Blog.  You write on this one more than its owner, Rick.  I pretty much agree with most of what you talk about, but sometimes you just go off the wall. 

Your last post questioning the authority of Ms. Torres and the RIOC is a bit rediculous.  RIOC is the State, and on this island, the State makes the rules.

And, your long winded discertations about Bond Debt and topics you think you're an expert in are just too much.  So, start your own Blog so you can write to your heart's content, and leave our beloved Board members alone.

Frank Farance said...

You say "RIOC is the State, and on this island, the State makes the rules", but that isn't true.  We operate under City and State laws.  By your reasoning, the City would have no authority over us, we wouldn't need to pay City taxes, and we wouldn't be eligible for City services.  The point here is: the State is a tenant of the City.

There are some topics where the State overrides the City (e.g., State codes for our buildings), but largely it is the City rules.  When I questioned the authority, I was not questioning Ms. Torres having the authority of President in RIOC, I was questioning under what authority does RIOC have to ignore the City laws/regulations?

When you say "leave our beloved Board members alone", you show the tribal thinking: only residents can do good, non-residents can only do wrong.  Why not make a substantive point?

mookie113 said...

Perhaps Alphonse should make his way on over to Yelp and peruse the reviews of Nonno's; that might enlighten him to the actual reasons people don't patronize his restaurant. Monopolies are simply the worst business practice - to enable you to do the bare minimum while still bringing in the $ bc there isn't another choice for residents, not a great plan. BTW Food truck owners can spend up to a hundred grand on those customized trucks, not to mention the parking, maintanence etc. Why do people act as if these food vendors just get up one morning throw on an apron, put some food in the back of their Toyota and set up shop?

How one decides to go into the restaurant biz in NYC and doesn't account for competion is beyond me. Stop yr whining Alphonse and focus on making your own establishment the best it can be.

garyneal said...

So I'm a little confused at why the truck got kicked off. Is it really because it didn't have the proper truck steps? Now that's just crazy! I mean, if it was a serious problem, I could see why they would take the precaution. But that is such a trivial problem. I guess the should get new running boards!