A few weeks ago, Luke’s Lobster decided to try parking and serving on Roosevelt Island.

According to the Roosevelt Islander, Luke’s was approached by the Public Safety Department and told they could not sell on the streets there without a permit.

The Roosevelt Islander contacted Luke’s and got the following comments from a Luke’s representative:

“So it dawned on me one day that something like 12k people live on the island and commute home each night via subway or tram, so why not try our hand at offering our food to the population (also we heard food choices were limited). Anyway, we set up and are selling and things are going fine, until the PSO comes around and said that we had to leave, because Roosevelt Island is a private island and that our NYC city wide permit was not valid on R.I. and that we needed to go down to 591 and see Donna and the Island president? and apply for a permit, and then we’d be able to come back.”

The Roosevelt Islander then asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez: “Does a Food Vending Truck licensed and operating in NYC need any additional permits or permissions to bring their truck and sell food on Roosevelt Island?”

Mr. Martinez responded: “Yes, a food vendor will have to provide RIOC with the appropriate NYC licences and copies of insurance.  We will then issue a RIOC permit.  However, please keep in mind that we are not currently accepting any applications for street food vending.”

The RIOC Board of Directors has now “placed the issue of mobile food vendors on the agenda for the next Real Estate committee meeting (12/22) to develop a procedure for handling them in a uniform and fair way.”

Here’s where it gets even more interesting.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance says the RIOC may control permitting on its properties, such as the sidewalk near the subway.  However, a food truck on a public street (Main Street), may be outside of RIOC’s control.

According to Farance, “If a mobile food vendor complies with the NYC licensing and permitting requirements (“…”) AND, Roosevelt Island’s Main Street is *not* on the list of restricted streets for mobile food vendors (“…”) THEN, under what authority does RIOC/PSD have the right to ask the food vendor to leave?…

Last night the Real Estate committee met and discussed the issue.  Below is a video of the meeting if you have some time to kill, but the gist is they believe they have the authority under the RIOC to require an additional permit for mobile food vendors.

So as it now stands, unless someone wants to challenge it in court, it will be up to this committee to come up with an approval process for mobile vending on Roosevelt Island.

Something tells me it’s not going to be a quick process, but at least Luke’s foray onto Roosevelt Island has kickstarted the process.

By the way, this is what you’ll be missing in the meantime.