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Halal cart rolls into Hunters Point, future unknown

street vendor

April 16, 2014 By Christian Murray

A bright orange Halal cart set up shop on the sidewalks of Hunters Point this week and it has already drawn the attention of police and one resident.

Navid Ahmed, an Afghani immigrant, rolled onto Vernon Blvd Monday and started cooking gyros—as well as lamb over rice.

However, by Tuesday, he was told by the police that he wasn’t allowed to operate on Vernon Blvd and moved to the corner of 49th Avenue and Vernon, near San Remo Pizza.

Ahmed had operated his Halal cart in Jamaica until he arrived in Hunters Point this week. He said he knew of Long Island City from his days driving a cab and said: “I believe it is a great place for business.”

Ahmed plans to stay in his Vernon Blvd/49th Ave location for at least two weeks and if he does well he will stay. “I plan to be open from 12 pm to 9 pm every day,” Ahmed said.

However, Ahmed has already got detractors. One resident was photographing his license on the side of his cart and said she was going to call 311 to complain.

“That pizzeria pays thousands of dollars in rent each month and he just sets up there,” said Pat, who refused to provide her last name. “I have lived here my entire life and that is not right.”

Meanwhile, Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said that he had not had an opportunity to check out the cart and did not comment on its legality.  However, the board has been very strict in interpreting the laws governing such vendors. Recently, the board was instrumental in forcing many food cart operators out of Sunnyside.

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@navid by the way sheila is not the head of the community board, nor is she the mayor , nor is she an elected official ( despite of dreaming of it )


wooow , of course sheila is trying to kick you out @navid … keep on showing up show your permit , and if you keep on getting harrased , then call greg mocker on channel 11 … he ll love the story …


Why shouldn’t people be able to set up food carts in LIC? (As long as they pay their taxes and don’t block the sidewalk.)

What I wouldn’t give for a good Mexican food cart or truck to establish itself in LIC. Astoria has food carts (and a superb Mexican food truck). We can’t we????

(And this is not a knock against Café Enrique, which serves excellent high-end Mexican food.) But a quick serving food cart, with moderate prices, would enhance the nabe.


Hi the food cart guy should come back and the police needs to follow the law and stop talking out of the law, n let this guy work and support his family and it will be nice to have middle eastern food in that area so plz come back thanx for listening


Im going to try harder to come back and do my business but i have to face the cops and the board of community her name is shiela….


The cops were telling me to move other wise youll get tickets for somthing and shirla the head of board community was telling me to move and i told her i dont sell the same food as the resturants around me and i have my permit and license that i need to operater my business but they didnt like some1 that is from middle eastern. I guess that you call descrimination!!!

51 Center

I’ve been an LIC resident for nearly 7 years. If the food is quality and the owner can make a decent buck, I’m proud and applaud him for his efforts. That is the essence of Long Island City. This isn’t rocket science.


Jan Michael, I completely agree with you on that! Too bad he’ll only be open until 9pm…unless of course we’ve all been out day drinking.

Seriously though, I welcome this guy to the neighborhood and I hope he succeeds. Kebabs and pizza are NOT the same, so I don’t even understand why they would be compared in the first place. Who gives a damn! We need some Middle Eastern food in this neighborhood, without a doubt. I wish him luck.

And finally, I agree with the first poster. You can’t pick and choose. It’s all or nothing.

Time's Up

Let’s put all the confused stereotypes aside. The only thing that is certain is that San Remo is an abomination. Nevertheless, considering that the food the cart serves is different, comparing the two is silly. Now, either the cart has a permit or it doesn’t. If it does, he’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood and he’ll probably do quite well.
Finally, we may ignore Sp. She just happens to hate herself.


I don’t understand why it’s harming the neighborhood to have this one guy. Like one of the earlier posters said, no one says anything when one of the more well-branded street vendors pop up (Waffle and Dinges, Ice Cream, etc.), but as soon as a run-of-the-mill halal cart comes into town, people are up in arms.

It makes no sense. Just leave him be. He’s trying to run a business just like everyone else.


God almighty, why does everything that happens in the neighborhood have to reverberate so much? Why do some people care so much about so little?

If this guy wants to hawk some street meat off a cart, why should anyone have such strong feelings about it? Street carts have a long history in this city and they offer cheap food for the masses. They are the great class equalizer too, like diners and the subway. If you don’t like it, go eat someplace else.

If this guy can make a honest living and earn money for his family, good for him. As long as he follows the terms of his license and traffic and sanitation laws, leave him the hell alone and get on with your damn lives.


A racist comment has been removed. It slipped through the moderation filter. My apologies.


He should be allowed and applauded. I do think now would be a good time to think about a plan to address locations, permitting, requirements for waste receptacles, etc. since there will probably be more vendors in the future.

Let’s also ignore and report blatant racism.


Not for nothin but San Remo pizza is a total garbage, if this guy is able to put him out of business then he deserves to be


What I find really ironic and perverted is how all the rich baby-boomer “pioneers” to LIC — you know, the never-happy narcissists who are constantly clamoring for more and more bars, cafes, restaurants, froo froo parlors — are now sticking up for a lowly immigrant food vendor, who represent the humble icon of old-school, working-guy LIC.

First they came to the neighborhood to disparage and obliterate all signs of the working class, and now they are championing it! How bizarre.


WOW! The transient wanna be never will be NYers roll into town from like Oregan or wherever trash the pizzeria and go RACIST! They both are pursuing the dream, the rest of you need to take ur gourmet beer and go the F home, ignorant stupid! The only contribution you all make is bringing crime, trash and bad manners. You’re not in Kansas anymore- GOOOO HOOOOME!


I get it, this neighborhood only wants foodtrucks/carts that have been seen on the food network. If this guy can’t stay then the fruit guy should go too, E and I sells fruit and pays rent so the fruit guy on the corner is doing the samething as this guy.


San Remo pizza is the worst pizza I ever had. Its also ALWAYS empty.

The owner certainly DOES own the building. That’s common knowledge.

Dave T

Picked up a lamb gyro after reading this. It was awesome, and only $4. Hope he sticks around… very decent cart.


Who care about that terrible pizzeria? Nobody stop them to set up a truck to sell the pizza like this guy! Why called 311 and wasted tax payers money???


That pizzeria DOES NOT pay rent, he owns the building. What a two faced community, you want a ton of bars so they can pursue the American dream, yet this guy an Afghan wants to serve food and you don’t want him, sounds kinda racist to me.


The guy isn’t breaking any rules. What’s the big deal? Food carts exist in almost every other neighborhood in the city and they seem to co-exist just fine.


Perhaps there should be a permit system to offset waste disposal costs incurred by the city and surrounding establishments surrounding. Used containers, utensils, etc. must go somewhere and these vendors ought to accommodate disposal or chip in for other entities who are forced to do so.


If you are going to bust this guys chops what about the Ice Cream truck on Center Blvd? Or the Belgium Waffle truck that pulls up outside of the Food Cellar. It’s either all or nothing. You can’t pick and choose.


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