Towards the end of 2011, Luke’s Lobster made a stop on Roosevelt Island to try serving dinner to the residents there – and was summarily booted off the island.  Sounds like a bad episode of Survivor.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) said Luke’s needed to have a special permit, but Roosevelt Island Residents Association Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance says a food truck on a public street may be outside of RIOC’s control.

As with many governmental decisions, the issue was studied and deliberated for 2 months, and this is what they came up with.

At a meeting on Jan 11th, the following was learned:

  • Mobile Food Trucks do not need any additional licenses or permits other than those granted by New York City to operate in Battery Park City and that Battery Park City defers to NYC rules and regulations regarding Mobile Food Trucks on its streets,
  • RIOC believes it has the authority to require Mobile Food Trucks with NYC licenses to obtain additional permits from RIOC even thought the mobile food trucks can operate in other NYC neighborhoods,
  • Some RIOC Directors expressed the view that existing restaurants need to be protected from the mobile food trucks while other Directors think that competition will sort things out,
  • a resident made the excellent comparison of banning/restricting mobile food trucks on Roosevelt Island for the benefit of protecting existing restaurants from competition to banning Fresh Direct Grocery Deliveries in order to protect Gristedes,
  • the Real Estate Committee will meet in a few weeks to make a decision.

Here’s what they decided last week:

  • The RIOC staff proposed mandating that New York City licensed Mobile Food Trucks obtain a monthly permit from RIOC as well as pay a $350 monthly fee in order to serve the Roosevelt Island population.  Mobile Food Trucks do not need to obtain permits other than a NYC Mobile Vending License to operate in any other NYC neighborhood, nor do they have to pay any additional fees.
  • The RIOC staff proposed allowing Mobile Food Trucks or street vendors to operate in six locations – but incredibly, not by the F Train subway station used by several thousand Roosevelt Island residents daily.  After an outcry from residents, this location is being reconsidered.  One resident said 3 of the 6 locations were “a joke” with not nearly enough foot traffic to justify an additional $350 monthly fee.

We could be mistaken, but even if there is an authorized location by the F train, it’s doubtful any NYC food trucks will opt for an additional $350 monthly permit fee just to operate on Roosevelt Island.  This sounds like a good way to legislate food trucks off Roosevelt Island!

Whether the RIOC has the authority to impose this fee is still a gray area.  Thanks to @MarkHLyon for the updates.  Stay tuned for further news.