MANHATTAN — Sometimes being a "hero" doesn’t get you much in this town.
Paty's Tacos, which won the first-ever "Hero Award" at last weekend's Vendy Awards — the Oscars of the city’s street food scene — is no longer dishing out its tasty Mexican food for its hungry lunchtime followers.
The truck fled to the Upper West Side after being towed and ticketed several times on the Upper East Side, where it had parked for nearly two years. But the change of scenery didn't change Paty's luck.
Paty's started attracting attention from police at its West 87th Street near Broadway location this summer. Then, on Aug. 3, the truck received eight tickets from cops and hasn't been back since, said Alberto Loera, who runs the truck with his mother, Patricia Monroy.
Since then, they've simply stopped selling lunch. Paty’s still serves up its tacos and burritos on the Upper East Side after 7 p.m., when the metered regulations are no longer in effect.
“We fight every day … with police, the community board, people who don’t like us,” Loera said. “We’re just selling good food. … We’re not committing a crime. We’re just working.”
Members of the East 86th Street Merchants and Residents Association had wanted Paty’s out of its neighborhood because they thought the truck was creating too much congestion, as well as hurting brick and mortar business and flouting traffic rules. Ultimately, cops were able to oust Paty’s for violating a rule against selling merchandise from a metered parking space.
Paty’s sued the city over the ticket, claiming food and merchandise were distinct categories. The judge ruled against the food truck — sparking a wave of enforcement of food trucks across the city. Police have also cracked down on trucks in Midtown and the Upper West Side.
Paty’s is appealing the ruling, and Loera is hopeful the courts will eventually side with him.
"Right now the police are bothering everybody," Loera said. "I've learned a lot. It was a wake-up call to realize vendors go through this a lot, and it's worth the fight."
Perry Resnick, founder of the New York Street Food blog, wrote in his nomination of the truck, “What Paty’s lawsuit accomplished was to highlight exactly what needs to be changed for food trucks to operate legally.”