It’s Time to Fix NYC’s Broken Food Vendor Permit System

At Roaming Hunger, we’re strong supporters of small businesses and helping their local economies. In our network of over 9,000 food trucks, 98% are owned or operated by chef entrepreneurs, and we stand by them in their efforts to bring delicious gourmet food to the streets.

Currently, in New York City there is a cap on the number of permits available to food truck owners that allows them to operate within city limits. This means that securing a permit for your truck can be next to impossible, or very expensive. 

If you want to find out more, read the message below, which is an email we received this week from Chef Adam Sobel of The Cinnamon Snail, explaining why it’s so hard to be successful in NYC and what you can do about it.

If you want to support this cause, go here to donate to their campaign

Lastly, the city recently introduced a bill that would double the number of permits available to vendors. You can read more about it in this New York Times article.


Dear Friends-

When I opened my vegan organic food truck, The Cinnamon Snail, in 2010, I knew there would be a lot of hurdles. Buying a truck and keeping up the maintenance, finding the connection to rent a food vendor permit in NYC, cooking in a tiny mobile kitchen, getting customers to come out (and line up!) for vegan fare in all weathers: these were all challenges that I was prepared for. What I never expected was that, after five successful years and numerous awards, the cost and complications of navigating the city’s broken permit system that would force me to shut down my NYC food truck.

Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant here in the city-something that many street food vendors dream about. And though no longer regularly selling on streets of New York, our food truck can now be found at locations in New Jersey and occasional NYC event, where it still draws visitors from around the world. But all too often for street food vendors-many of them immigrants, people of color, and veterans-the city’s broken permit system puts an end to their dreams and their means to earn a living for their families. And they have never needed our support more than now.

That’s why, though we have yet to reach abundance in our bank accounts, my wife and I are supporting the Street Vendor Project’s campaign to #LiftTheCaps on the number of city-issued permits. A donation of $25 or $50 will help:
  • Mobilize vendors and allies to participate in grassroots actions,
  • Amplify the voices of vendors through coordinated media efforts, and
  • Fight for the kind of policy reform that street food vendors deserve.
A donation of $25 or $50 dollars, though small, makes a big difference to these hard-working, big-dreaming vendors. Since the city recently introduced a bill that would double the number of permits available to vendors, it’s now more important than ever to push for the change these vendors need.
There are as many as 20,000 street food vendors in New York City. These hard-working entrepreneurs deserve the right to work, all while offering a quick bite to New Yorkers as we bustle around the city. And because no single hot dog cart or taco truck or vegan kosher food business can do it alone, I ask you to join me today in supporting the Street Vendor Project.
In solidarity,
Chef Adam Sobel
The Cinnamon Snail

If you’re interested in the food truck industry and want to learn more, check out these resources to help food truck owners and entrepreneurs:

How Much Does a Food Truck Cost?

Advice for Starting a Food Truck Business

Food Truck Commissaries: What You Need to Know