Long Island City Food Truck Lot Forced to Scale Back
LONG ISLAND CITY - The Long Island City food truck lot is starving for business.
The lot near the CitiCorp building, which generated buzz and operated five days a week during its first season in 2011, has dramatically scaled back its hours and offerings — leaving workers, who complained about a lack of food options in the area, hungry for more.
While there were two or three trucks hawking their culinary creations during lunchtime in the lot at 43-29 Crescent St. on daily basis last year, last Friday there was only one — Chinese Mirch, which serves Chinese food with Indian flavors.
“I’m very disappointed that there is only one truck here,” said Jamie Neckles, 33, who works for the Department of Health, which has an office in the area. “It was a great spot. I wish there was more food variety.”
Another customer, who introduced himself as Evan K. and said he worked for Citibank, noted that “last year the lot was really great. There were like 10 to 15 unique trucks coming during the week, selling food that was almost restaurant quality."
“It’s Long Island City and there are still not that many restaurants in the area,” he added. “The lot filled the gap.”
David Weber, president of the New York City Food Truck Association, said he stopped trying to recruit trucks to sell food in the lot five days a week because of flagging interest.
“Last year there was a lot of excitement about the project, and that might have waned over time,” he said.
He added that maintaining a food truck lot is a challenge. “You need a lot of trucks to attract enough customers, and you also need enough customers to make it attractive for food trucks,” he said.
The LIC food truck lot was the idea of Rockrose Development Corporation, which owns the lot and has numerous developments in the area. Located on Crescent Street, just next to the Citicorp Building and very close to Queens Plaza, it's near many offices, including the new JetBlue headquarters.
When the lot reopened this spring after its winter recess, it was still operating five days a week. But after a few months, the schedule was scaled back to three days a week, which has since been reduced to Fridays only.
“If there is not enough business for trucks, the trucks are going to leave,” Weber said.
Friday was the third consecutive week that the Chinese Mirch truck has come to the lot.
Mehmet Yaldiz, the truck’s driver and cashier, said that business was good. “Customers are coming and they like our food,” he said. “In the summertime, it’s always a little bit slow."
He added that some food truck operators prefer going to Manhattan, instead of Queens, as they consider it a better business.
Rockrose representatives said it’s ultimately up to the trucks if they want to use the space.
“The lot is there for them to use,” said Richard Edmonds, a spokesperson for Rockrose.
David Weber said he hoped that with time the lot would fill up again. Starting this Friday, he said there would also be another truck coming to the lot — Snap Truck — serving charcoal-grilled burgers and Chicago-style hotdogs.