Finally, there’s a home for the weary, roving food trucks of New York — right here in Queens. What may be the city’s first food truck court on private land opens within the next month at 43-29 Crescent Street in a Long Island City parking lot.
The lot that will soon host three trucks (and more if the venture proves successful) at least three times a week belongs to the Rockrose Development Corp., which had been looking to add “amenities to the neighborhood [it] love[s] so much,” said Jen Milburn, development associate for the company. Rockrose found its “match made in heaven” in the New York Food Truck Association and its beleaguered vendors: “They need the space; we have a parking lot,” Milburn said.
For over a month, police have been exiling food trucks from Midtown under the city’s new stance that they are no longer allowed to operate from metered spots. “There’s more enforcement on the streets and our members have seen their revenues drop due to that enforcement,” said David Weber, president of the New York Food Truck Association and founding member of Rickshaw Dumplings. Often, police move trucks in the middle of lunch, which are prime earning hours for the association’s 25 members, he said.
Vendors who have expressed interest in the LIC lot — a safe haven from the chaos of street vending — include Weber’s Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, the Treats Truck, the Milk Truck, Cupcake Stop, Eddie’s Pizza, Frites ‘N Meats and the Kimchi Taco Truck.
“We’re really excited about this location because Long Island City is a growing and vibrant neighborhood. There’s a lot of new tenants,” Weber explained.
The food truck lot will offer varied lunch options, everything from dumplings to lobster rolls, to 4,000 new Department of Health staffers at Gotham Center, employees at 1 City Club Tower and students of the new City University of New York law school at 2 Court Square. Says Weber, “We find some of our best customers are office workers, because they’re really busy. New Yorkers want to make every hour of their day productive … [and] food trucks play really well into that.”
The truck association will rotate its members through the property, which Weber thinks will “make it of ongoing interest to people in the community.” The lot promises to be “more dynamic than a typical food court,” he said.
For now, 5,000 square feet of the 11,000-square-foot parking lot is scheduled to be given over to the food trucks. If the location proves popular with customers, the entire lot could be filled with vendors in the future.
Long Island City follows, in hosting its own food truck court, examples set by cities like Austin, Texas, Portland, Ore., and greater Los Angeles, where the Southern California Food Vendors Association operates five food-truck lots.
Area restaurants, like LIC Market, could not be reached for comment on their competitive prospects against a new food court.
The New York Food Truck Association and Rockrose Development are still negotiating responsibility for the ongoing management of the Queens lot, as well as a nominal day rate that food trucks would have to pay to occupy the space.
Moreover, the truck association is now considering other locations around the city with similar demographics where it might set up more food courts.
That expansion will only happen if, as Weber hopes on behalf of his food truck coalition, Long Island City will “come join us for lunch.”