March 22, 2014 By Christian Murray
Sheref Abdelshafy, who has operated his food cart under the 40th Street No. 7 train station for 10 years, is a worried man. He is in danger of being removed.
Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley wants that area cleared of food vendors, just like what occurred under the 46th Street station in December. Conley has said that many people have concerns about the cleanliness of the food carts and support the board’s “zero tolerance policy” of all street vendors.
But Abelshafy said it’s unfair that the board wants him gone.
“I’ve been here 10 years selling bagels and coffee and I have never had any problems with anyone,” Abdelshafty said. “I don’t have anything else [another occupation].”
Conley spoke to a representative of the Department of Transportation at a community board meeting on Tuesday, telling him that the neighborhood needs help in getting rid of the vendors. He complained that the vendors were in the middle of the 40th Street art installation.
“We have sent a letter with pictures to the DOT that asks them to work with the police department, so they can get the food carts out of there,” Conley said during the meeting. That letter was sent on March 5.
Abdelshafy, who starts work at about 4 am and leaves at 11 am, said the police have not spoken to him yet. He said he wasn’t sure whether the owner of the Halal cart who arrives each day at 11am had been spoken to either.
Adbelshafy was visibility shaken when he heard that the letter had been sent.
“I have kids, I have bills,” he said. “My rent is $1,500 a month. I will be out on the street.”