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Red Hook Food Vendors Bid to Continue Ethnic Market at Red Hook Park

 The Red Hook Food Vendors are hoping to win another term at Red Hook Park, where they have been located for almost 40 years.
Red Hook Food Vendors
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RED HOOK —The Red Hook Food Vendors, a group of ethnic food trucks and carts, are hoping to continue their decades-long tradition at Red Hook Park by renewing their contract this year.

The New York City Parks Department last week released a “Request for Proposal” for the operation of “an ethnic and specialty food market at Red Hook Park,” according to the document.

“For decades, vendors have lined the streets that border the soccer and baseball fields in the Red Hook Recreation Area, selling delicious delicacies from Mexico, Central American, South America and the Caribbean,” the document stated, calling for organizations to submit proposals.

The park, located at Bay, Clinton, Court and Halleck streets adjacent to the soccer fields, has been home to the Red Hook food trucks for years, said Cesar Fuentes, executive director of the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park Inc., who represents the independently owned eateries.

“We hope to celebrate our 40-year anniversary by renewing our contract,” he said.
The market should consist of individual “Mobile Food Units” — pushcarts, processing carts or trucks — that serve ethnic or specialty food, according to the Parks Department.

For the 2010-2014 year, which will begin July 1, the “flat annual fee” paid to the Parks Department would be about $13,400, according to the document.

Like Nathan’s in Coney Island, the Red Hook food trucks could be considered “a Brooklyn institution,” Fuentes said.

Serving Mexican, Colombian, Dominican and other ethnic cuisines, the food trucks like “Soler,” “Carillo” and “Country Boys” have become a summer staple in the neighborhood.

If they win the six-year contract, the Red Hook food vendors hope to renovate their market, adding on more vendors, both food and non-food, like jewelry and crafts shops, said Fuentes.

By creating a world food and fusion fair, “we want to enhance the food market experience,” he said.

While the vendors currently operate only on weekends and major holidays, the new contract will bring weekday events, including open-air kitchens and farmers’ markets, said Fuentes.

The weekend operation, which runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., opens in mid-April till the end of October, often signaling the start of summer for locals. 

Fuentes said their long history with the neighborhood has given them strong ties to the community, which has supported them for decades.

“Our 40-year tradition may continue for another 60 years,” he said, if the vendors are awarded the contract.

But, he added, “it could be anybody.”