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Many Sunnysiders come to the support of street vendor, after city tries to get rid of him

May 8, By Christian Murray

Several Sunnyside residents have come to the defense of a street cart vendor who operates below the 40th Street subway station after learning that he was told he could no longer do business there.

Sheref Abdelshafy, who has served coffee and bagels from his cart under the 40th Street train station for well over a decade, said he received a visit from an official from the Department of Health on April 25 and was told food vendors were forbidden from doing business there.

Abdelshafy’s cart was shut down that day, he said. He has since returned, where he has generated support from his customers.

“I’ve been here about 13 years and I have never had any problems with anyone,” Abdelshafy said.

Angelique Mann, a long-time Sunnyside resident, attended Community Board 2’s monthly meeting Thursday and spoke in support of Abdelshafy.

She said Abdelshafy provides a much-needed service, by offering commuters coffee each day starting at 5 am. “We appreciate the services he offers,” she said, adding that he is “a delight to the community.”

She spoke to the board since it has historically taken a tough stance toward the vendors under the 7 train.

Former Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley and the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District worked to get rid of the vendors and got their way at the end of 2013.

Conley said at the time that the venders were located too close to the subway stairwells, putting riders at risk in case they needed to make an emergency exit from the subway platform.

He pointed to the New York City administrative code prohibiting vendors from operating within 10 feet of any subway entrance—and worked with the police and city agencies to ensure it was enforced.

While all the vendors from 46th Street disappeared, Abdelshafy managed to survive at 4oth Street. He was told three years ago that he had to leave but has managed to stay on.

Mann told the community board that many residents want Abdelshafy to stay. Three other people spoke at the meeting on his behalf.

Naomi Berkowitz, a resident, said that the community should support him and it’s people like him who make the neighborhood. “Sunnyside is a place where we should be supporting hard working individuals and small businesses,” she said. “It’s what I love about Sunnyside.”

The Department of Health were not immediately available to comment.

Bliss Plaza opened once vendors were pushed out

 

email the author: news@queenspost.com

61 Comments

RobertHP

Sure… it’s the solitary cart, with lots of people still sitting in the chairs, and moving across the plaza that’s the access problem for the train in the event of emergencies. Not the tiny tiny double-turn stairways, lack of elevator, etc. One person with a large enough bag and a sore leg can slow 50 people behind them to a standstill.

If there was an emergency at that stop, people would come pushing and falling out of those stairwells like an overstuffed vending machine. Not one soul who actually made it out of those stairwells would even notice the street cart with a ton of room around it.




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longtime resident

What is with the lie that this guy has been there for over a decade? 40th Street went straight through under the train until about 2009. This guy didn’t show up until 2011-12. The city’s been try to get rid of him since about the same time so it’s not like he was there for years and then all of sudden he’s being asked to leave.

I don’t really care though. Let him stay. I just hate bad reporting.




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Roxy

The same food cart was back in business in the usual spot when I returned from Manhattan yesterday (Thursday) around 2:00 in the afternoon. But it wasn’t there in the morning when I went into Manhattan.




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Js

I’m not a fan of the plazas under the subway they could have made the sidewalks wider but there there now i see no problem with the coffee man the MTA had stands under the train stairs and on platforms at 33 40 and 46 street stations… if anything at 430 in morning its nice to see someone there you not so alone if anything when they built the new plazas they could have made them nicer with maybe a rental kiosk in the middle or one under each stair that could offer drinks and food or produce the wonderful MTA cold have installed Metro card machines on plaza level for bus people and senors to fill their cards its sad the MTA does not comply fully with ADA issues no Elevators and plenty of room for them now especially since street is closed to traffic bad enough if emergency fire and ambulance and police have to park along plaza and block the left lanes




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Tea Lady

Kick him out. This neighborhood is gentrifying and the only acceptable alternative if people want to get fat is a Maison Kayser kiosk. Otherwise install a garden of orchids.




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Sunnyside Loves Me Long Time

lots of people like there week cofee. coffee carts use old water, and the beans dont get a good soak. should always get your coffee from home and bring to the store to have them make it for you. much better




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Styn

How come there’s a new vendor under 46th lately? He has a big digital sign that displays the time, and it’s an hour off.

Over the last year, the plaza was filled with people sitting and enjoying the tables, now there is a crummy food cart junking it up.

Maybe it’s moved along, I haven’t seen it in a couple days I guess.




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Anonymous

Some of you people have made comments about vendor’s not paying taxes…how do you know this? Where’s the proof?




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Fan of dough boy park

Miss the old days when the coffee trollys rang their bells and the kids would come a running for a hot cup of java joe………..




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Fan of fake fan of Dough boy park

Or when people didn’t steal other people’s monikers, lol




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Kramden's Delicious Marshall

lets meet this fakester at the coffee trolly and give him the what have you.




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Tootsietooters

Seems like only 4 people came to his defense? And he wasn’t removed. What’s the story?




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Kieran the Irish leprechaun, lucky charms

Get rid of all vendors or charge them rent, and make them follow health department rules. Also they should be audited every month. These guys get away with paying taxes and every store gets killed . This is fair to a rent paying store owner?




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tonimets

If you think this is bad you should visit the Ditmars Station in Astoria. The place is full of smelly/dirty street vendors and food trucks near the subway and the surrounding blocks. They dirty the streets, cause traffic jams, take up the sidewalks and have no health value to the community. If you choose to buy make sure it is very well done and eat it away from the subway!!




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Phil

This just seems like a cartel harassing a small business person. Were they out there with a measuring tape everyday? How do they know he’s too close to the entrance?




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Kremdans Delicious Marshell

Go look at the garage on 43rd ave where they park these food trollys and see if you wanna eat from them.




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Kramden's Delicious Marshall

If you’re going to steal my screen name, at least spell it right.




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Mac

Not fair to business owners who have to pay skyrocketing rents and taxes and are subject to scrutiny from the health department…




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AshleyR

IMO, street vendors clutter and dirty spaces. Even on street corners they take up sidewalks and encourage people to double park cars. I can not stand the smell of meats from Charcoal or Gas cooked food from these vendors. It is very unhealthy and serves no good to the community. These places need to be strictly monitored by the dept of health.




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sueellen

I am glad the street vendors are gone. I am all for a cleaner neighborhood. People should focus on placing affordable street vendors who serve healthier options such as fruits and vegetables shakes, teas, and healthy snacks away from the subway.




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Roxy

I filed many complaints against this person for violating the rules and regulations of the plaza. I’m delighted that action is finally being taken. If people are that hungry, they have many options nearby on both sides of Queens Boulevard and adjacent streets.




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Jay

First, The rules and laws apply to everybody. Either figure out a way to change them legally, or follow them.

Second, that is not the place for a street cart. In the event of a large scale emergency, first responders do not have time to move a food cart out of the way.

More selfish behavior from “rules don’t apply to me people” who make life more difficult than it needs to be in NYC.




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Anonymous

He wants business from people on both sides of the boulevard. The middle is the best place.




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Lauriana

I for one have lived in Sunnyside over 10 years & miss the vendors under the 7 train. The fruit & vegetable vendors disappeared along with the others over the last few years. They serviced our community & provided better produce than the local grocery stores who insist on selling us 1/2 rotten produced that is 3 times in cost what it should be. Now on 46tj st there are just a bunch of unemployed people hanging out in the chairs harassing people.




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South

If you’re harassed by people hanging out under the train, report it. If not, don’t make unsubstantiated claims.

If you’re exaggerating your daily experience in order to make a point over the internet, reevaluate your life.

It’s a stretch to turn the content of this article into a point about the scandalous costs of half-rotten produce from grocery stores that you vilify because they have actual walls.




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Todd

The city needs to audit his financials. Cash only. These guys come here and do cash only business ad everything goes over seas. Watch all you liberals support him!
You know I’m right.
As Gordon Ramsey says SHUT IT DOWN!!!




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Bruno

Todd- Conservatives are the ones who don’t pay taxes and love free slave labor. Fact!!!




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RobertHP

You mean just like immigrants have been doing for 150 years, building their lives from the ground up in NYC? The horror!!

Oh I get it! ‘Cuz he’s brown. Shame on him for not being Irish/Italian/Polish/Romanian/Jewish!




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Fan of dough boy park

2 hours after posting this has 27 likes? Seriously? I call some ” shenanigans” on this quick ” likes” . This sounds like a Mayor Quimby run poll.




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Creatineis Asteroid

I hated how they pushed out the vendors under the 46th st subway station. They had the best halal food there. Why would they make a space for people to hang out there? There are literally 3 parks nearby. Sunnyside changed a lot for the worse. I barely recognize where I was born and grew up for 20+ years.




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South

“Why would they make a space for people…”? Three parks “nearby”?

What neighborhood do you live in?

I’d rather sit in a chair with a table than on a bench in some playground 5 blocks away.

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The issue is that the “redesigned” public space under the train was enacted in a way that didn’t accommodate the well-liked neighborhood businesses (i.e: the carts) that people in Sunnyside enjoy. It’s not a conversation about the mutually exclusive entities: chair and coffee cart.




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Diane Cerone

Mr. Abdelshafy is such an asset to the neighborhood. I’m greeted every day with a warm smile and hot coffee. He remembers your order so you don’t have to say a word to get your coffee and that is such a nice thing when you’re just about to tackle the 7 train at an early hour! I would happily sign a petition to keep him in the neighborhood.




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Fan of dough boy park

Not like the old days when you could go to the cafe caboose on the subways




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Anonymous

He works under the cement portion of the el. No paint there. You may not like to eat from food vendors, and that is fine. But lots of people do. That should be fine too.




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Heywood Jablomey

“Conley said at the time that the venders were located too close to the subway stairwells, putting riders at risk in case they needed to make an emergency exit from the subway platform.”
.
Baloney. If there’s an emergency, that cart won’t get in anybody’s way.




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Sunnyside Loves Me Long Time

And of course the neighborhood ruining B.I.D starts throwing their weight around like the a$$holes they are. And Crowley needs to be voted out. The only time he shows up is to do something nobody wants or needs.




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I ♡ Sunnyside

I don’t think getting rid of them has anything to do with an attack on street vendors. There’s been a lot of news recently of lead paint falling from the trains. Perhaps they wish not to disclose how serious the issue is, but are concerned with the amount of lead paint people may possibly be eating off the constantly running trains above. Let’s also not forget to the sweeping winds of beautiful debris off the people and stairs.




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The Lead Chips in Abdelshafy's Coffee

We lead chips need homes too. There’s a near constant stream of us raining down on this food cart, luckily the bagels are like giant sponges that absorb them so we can live on in unsuspecting customers




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Michael

40th st station isn’t a metal trestle, just naked concrete – the lead paint concerns stem from 52nd street station out. Don’t doubt that that was what brought this to attention, though.




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