By Sarah Zorn | BrooklynPaper.com
Grand Army Plaza’s food truck rally has become a food fight.
The Prospect Park Alliance’s decision to expand its one-time festival into a monthly event — to be held on the third Sunday of every month until Oct. 16 — has inflamed many local business owners.
“This neighborhood is being exploited by a fad,” fumed Janice Pullicio, owner of Naidre’s café on Seventh Avenue near 12th Street. “We pay rent and taxes in the Park Slope community. Considering the economic hardship of the past few years, Prospect Park should be supporting, not hindering, local businesses.”
Melissa Murphy, owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie on Seventh Avenue near First Street, agreed.
“I am paying so much money on rent, and there is a truck parked right outside my door on most days,” she said. “The fact that the community is supporting these non-local vendors is beyond ignorant.”
The Park Slope Civic Council and the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District have also lodged complaints with the Alliance.
But Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron said that the food truck confab will benefit the community.
“There are concerns every time there is a big change,” said Patron. “But we strongly believe that having something so exciting happening at the park only increases interest in — and exploration of — the neighborhood around it.”
Pullicio hungrily disagrees.
“All the trucks do for us is leave a mess for the Sanitation Department to clean up with taxpayer dollars. So for them to swoop in out of nowhere and steal away our business in the height of our season is beyond infuriating.”
Susan Povich, who plans to make her popular Red Hook Lobster Pound truck a regular at the rallies, bristles at these accusations.
“We are all responsible business owners. We clean up after ourselves, accrue our fair share of expenses and between us, employ hundreds of members of the Brooklyn community.”
And the idea that she’s poaching business?
“We’re not. And if we do, maybe they should take it as a sign to change their menus.”
Not every shop owner opposes the food trucks.
“Having a few trucks at the park one afternoon does not affect things all the way down on Fifth Avenue,” said Caitlin Geoghan, owner of Gorilla Coffee on Fifth Avenue. “This neighborhood is big enough and affluent enough to support many different kinds of businesses. So, more power to the trucks!”
Wherever you stand on the issue, one thing’s for sure, this Sunday, you can order your wafels and dinges with a side of controversy.
Food Truck Rally at Grand Army Plaza (Union Street between Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park West in Park Slope), June 19, July 17, Aug. 21, Sept. 18, and Oct. 16, 11 am-5 pm. For info, visit www.nycfoodtrucks.org.