Halal food carts rile civics in Glen Oaks

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Northeast Queens civic leaders are complaining about two halal food carts that recently set up shop in Glen Oaks, contending the concessions are out of character with the neighborhood.

“This is a suburb — this is not Manhattan,” said Angela Augugliaro, president of the Bellerose−based Queens Colony Civic Association. “This is not a metropolis.”

But both push carts — one on Union Turnpike in front of the Glen Oaks Shopping Center and another on Hillside Avenue near Little Neck Parkway — are legal and have the necessary permits.

The owner of the food carts, who only wanted to be identified as Mike, said he called the city Department of Health on himself last week so the agency could inspect the carts and verify that he legally has the right to operate them.

“I called the Health Department and everything’s OK,” Mike said. “This is a public sidewalk. I’m on the right spot. I don’t worry about nobody because I am here legally.”

But Augugliaro said she and other civic leaders “don’t feel these carts are in a proper place. We feel this isn’t the type of area that requires these.”

Similar food carts on Austin Street in Forest Hills drew the ire of residents in that neighborhood, who said the street was too narrow for the vendors to operate.

Mike said the manager of a Chase Bank complained that his Hamza and Medina Halal Food cart on Union Turnpike was making his customers nervous.

The bank manager could not be reached for comment.

Both carts serve halal food and offer a simple menu: chicken and rice, lamb and rice, chicken on pita, lamb gyros, soda and water.

But Mike said he did not understand why the bank would object to the cart, saying he can serve as a deterrent to crime at the institution.

“I’m like a friggin’ camera,” he said. “I can see anything.”

Bruno DeFranceschi, the president of the North Bellerose Civic Association, agreed with Augugliaro that the carts are not appropriate for the community.

“This is not a zone where you can have these carts. This is a residential zone,” he said. This is all single−family homes.”

DeFranceschi said he was concerned about more carts showing up in the neighborhood.

“This is going to become like 42nd Street,” he said.

Mike said he would set up petitions outside his carts for his customers to sign if he continues to face complaints from civic leaders.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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