As much as we wanted the matter of food vendors in Dolores Park to be settled, like, years ago, the latest threats of anti-vendor protests from prickly parks activist Chicken John Rinaldi ought to make you sick for San Francisco. Rinaldi, who previously threatened to spit on baristas at the planned Blue Bottle coffee cart in Dolores Park, has taken his gross-out antics one step further and is now threatening to stage a Puke-In at Chaac Mool’s food trailer set to open in Dolores Park this weekend. If you’ve never heard of this acidic form of protest, it’s exactly what it sounds like. From Rinaldi’s newsletter: “I’m gonna go puke on a trailer this weekend because no one knows that this weekend a commercial entity is going to open a store in Dolores Park and is doing it without anyone knowing.”
Given the large amount of press Chaac Mool and the restaurant incubators at La Cocina have already received, it seems unfair to say no one saw this food truck coming. (Actually, is seeing a food cart or truck or wagon or outdoor barbecue popping up to sell food anywhere in the city really that much of a surprise at this point?) But what’s more unfair is that one sensationalist on the fringe wants to barf (as in: literally vomit!) on a business operated by that adorable couple above, just because they had the audacity to work with La Cocina and the Rec and Parks Department to set up vending in the park.
Obviously, there’s more at work here than foodies vs. park activists. There are some irrational fears that our city’s parks could turn in to privatized strip malls, after all. But when one party reduces the conversation to “I’m going to barf on you”, we’ve gone well beyond the boundaries of playfully weird, protest-happy San Franciscans to gross, mean-spirited human beings. While the rest of the city has long since evolved enough to realize that putting a food cart in a park is not a slippery slope, the anti-vendor contingent reverts to the same fratboy antics as a Jackass movie.
The people at La Cocina have already pushed the opening date of Chaac Mool’s Dolores Park debut to next Saturday, fearing bodily fluids would probably gross out the customers. No word yet on whether Chicken John will move his protest as well. In the meantime, Chaac Mool will be holding a test run at Hayes Valley’s Proxy Project (a park! with food in it!) this weekend.