A new coffee truck in Bayside has been serving plenty of warm drinks, but the newcomer is also receiving the cold shoulder from some local businesses.
The NYC Loves Coffee street truck arrived on the Bell Boulevard strip this week, but local businesses are concerned about their latest competition. The mobile merchant that serves coffees, lattes, espressos and more is parked in front of the Bayside’s Long Island Rail Road station near 41st Avenue, which is a prime location for commuters to grab their cappuccinos and go.
Billy “Laser,” a Whitestone resident who works at the NYC Loves Coffee truck in Bayside, told QNS that he has received several complaints from local business owners who call police and pump up the pressure to drive him out of town.
“Most [police officers] don’t want to be bothered. They want to be out there for real crimes,” Billy said. The employee added that officers who work the morning shift have confronted him and issued a ticket as early as 9 a.m. According to Laser, one police sergeant forced the mobile truck to leave around 3 p.m., despite Billy’s desire to gain business during the rush hour traffic.
“All the customers who want us and it’s these people … but it’s scary because it creates a stress level for me and I get depressed. I do. This is a love truck, not a hate truck, and they make me feel so bad,” Billy said.
He also told QNS that one anonymous individual threatened to call 311 every hour until the truck leaves and warned that “something will happen” if he refuses to move.
“I’m never out to hurt local businesses … everybody’s got coffee but our coffee is not packaged and shipped. It’s roasted right here in Brooklyn. It’s our brand, our brand is coffee,” said NYC Loves Coffee owner Douglas Gray, a Bayside native who operates other trucks in Manhattan locations like Wall Street and Prospect Park. He assured QNS that the coffee truck is equipped with a citywide permit that enables him to conduct business in the local area.
However, Lyle Sclair, executive director of the Bayside Village BID, told QNS that the BID filed a 311 complaint against the NYC Loves Coffee street truck, due to a violation against NYC Department of Transportation Traffic Rules Section 4-08 (h)(8) that states, “No peddler, vendor, hawker or huckster shall park a vehicle at a metered parking space for purposes of displaying, selling, storing or offering merchandise for sale from the vehicle.” According to Sclair, vendors are prohibited from parking at a muni-meter after 9 a.m. in accordance to these regulations.
“Donating $2 every hour to the meter does not negate parking laws,” Sclair said. He clarified that the Bayside truck is not an isolated incident but aims to combat “meter feeding for everyone,” as a result of the lack of parking space on Bell Boulevard.
The truck has not been seen on Bell since last Friday, but a truck worker told QNS that business would likely resume the week of June 20; the truck is currently catering at another location in the city.
Open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday, the truck has even inspired Bayside residents to create a “Save the Love Truck” petition that urges supporters to help solidify its spot on Bell.
A nearby business, Martha’s Country Bakery, dislikes the new coffee truck.
“It keeps taking a couple of our customers and I think it’s affecting the business,” Frey Escobar, manager at Martha’s Country Bakery, told QNS. “Eventually if we see that he’s taking our business away, then I guess we’ll have to report it … All the customers that take the Long Island Rail Road in the morning, they would come here. Now it’s possible for them to get coffee from there.”
Other businesses like 7-Eleven and Top Bagel didn’t have much to say about the new kid on the block.
“No, actually this year we are slow. Last year was busy, this year is slow,” said Rehana Haque, manager at Dunkin’ Donuts, who told QNS that she does not notice any negative impact by the coffee truck in particular.
Members of the Facebook public group Bayside, Queens also expressed a combination of opinions about the NYC Loves Coffee truck.
“A truck that pays no rent is stealing customers from rent-paying stores [that are] already struggling. It’s like a huge smack in the face to the local merchants” Cara Duro Quinones commented in the Facebook group.
“He really is just a good local guy trying to make a living working for NYC Loves Coffee and really did find a good spot for his truck – it’s a shame that insecure business owners are feeling threatened by one truck. If those businesses were so good, a mobile truck would never make them feel that way – [shaking my head] on those businesses as now I know where NOT to shop,” Karen Georg Dussack wrote in the Facebook group.
“Well either we are going to support the small businesses in our community or we are not. There are plenty of stores to get coffee/cakes/breakfast/shakes/smoothies etc. already on Bell Blvd. To fill the Blvd with food trucks that take business away from those already there is kind of foul seeing as how so many are closing down already,” Lori Cotto wrote.