Supersized Food Carts are Forced on a Diet

Food carts are taking up too much sidewalk space, New York City cracks down on dimensions

Food carts are a distinct feature of New York City and their popularity growth shows in the number of customers and the carts’ physical size. The Health Department is enforcing a new size constriction of 5 by 10 feet including all signs and extensions on all non-motorized carts to free up sidewalk space.

The original law was enforced for carts vending hot dogs, pre-packaged foods, and produce, while carts serving prepared dishes were allowed to keep growing.

“There’s been literal growth in the size of carts. We’re trying to balance the competing interests for sidewalk space. Now, it’s the same for everybody,” said one health official.

Some food vendors believe that food cart owners should think of the street size when estimating the size of their cart, while others argue they need the space to accommodate the massive number of customers and to abide by food preparation concerns.