Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Act Now To Help The Red Hook Ball Field Vendors!

As New York mag reported on 6/5, the awesomeness that is Red Hook soccer tacos is now in peril:

The city, eager as ever for the fat stacks that only a bidding war by commercial concessions can offer, has given the vendors notice that their Temporary Use Agreement, the permit given to them by the Department of Parks and Recreation, won’t be renewed. The city wants to open the parks up for concession bids, which will almost certainly mean an end to the makeshift food stalls that have been operating there for over ten years.


If you heart the vendors at the ball fields, now is the time to act. Send messages to both New York Commissioner of Parks Adrian Benepe and Red Hook Councilwoman Sara M. Gonzalez. We've even written up a handy message (with help from Serious Eats) you can use -- use your cut 'n paste skillz below! Add your name and send as-is, or for a more effective plea, personalize it with what the ball fields mean to you.

Please do it right now!


Contact him either using this form or via email at

Dear Commissioner Benepe,

Please extend the Temporary Use Agreement to the vendors at the Red Hook ball fields. They are a unique resource in the city, are one of the best things about summer in Brooklyn, and they are irreplaceable.

The vendors bring value to Red Hook by bringing people out to eat who might otherwise not visit the neighborhood, and they create an experience and a range of real, honest food that typical park vendors could not possibly replicate.

I'm asking you to please grant them an extension for this year and to look for a way to make the use agreement permanent.

This is a cultural institution worth saving!



Email her at

Dear Councilwoman,

I am writing to let you know that if the vendors at the Red Hook Ballfields lose their license, or are forced out of business in any way (increase in fees, etc.), you can be certain the New York City Food Community will make it our mission to make sure that those who were responsible will not be re-elected to office.

Thanks for your time,


Anonymous said...

True all dat.

food!! said...

never actually seen or had a taco at the ballfields... do they actually serve them there? if so I guess they would be delicious.

I do know they have great huaraches, ceviche and papusas.....

redhookfoodvendors said...

Dear Friends,
Thanks so much for your concern, care, love and support for our affair and attention to our current situation.
This is indeed a very difficult time for us. As we are about to wage an uphill battle with the system, all your comments and response to this situation makes us feel we are not alone- and also loved.
This show off affection will give us strenght to continue advocating for the rightful preservation of this unique & traditional affair.
Your letters and emails to Parks and city official will certainly go a long way in making a strong case for our appeal -which was officialy sent to Parks Commissioner Benepe yesterday.
Thanks again for your appreciation of our humble affair, which is now, more than ever, dedicated to all of you.


Cesar Fuentes
Executive Director
Food Vendors Committe of Red Hook Park Inc.
(P.S. Thanks for creating this special website for our cause..we are truly humbled...)


Of course all of us Red Hookers knew this was going to happen...OF COURSE..but we all have a voice and we are going to have to use it otherwise Red Hook is going to end up looking like a retail parking lot...the soccer field vendors are part of what makes Red Hook a great destination...NYC=Great Food=red hook soccer fields...let the loud voices BEGIN SAVE THE FIELDS!

Anonymous said...

Please post a link to this years game schedule. I cant seem to find it online!

alexistentialism said...

you've got support from park slope too. i'm extending this to the brooklyn kickball league alive and well in williamsburg. we love the empanada men.

Caley said...

Came for the first time this weekend, and the food was amazing! I posted a link here from my blog about the experience. Save the soccer tacos!

triebensee said...

I don't understand why the Red Hook Ball Field Vendors can't be treated with the same arrangement that Greenmarket farmers receive. Many Greenmarket farmers have been at the same location at Union Square and other parks for years, if not decades. They don't need to reapply for permits annually. Aren't they vendors too?

Why not bring the Red Hook Ball Field Vendors under the Greenmarket umbrella?

Anonymous said...

I agree that the vendors are fantastic, but I would ask that you research your facts before jumping to conclusions. The vendors are not being forced out by the Parks department--they are being asked to participate in the same process that every other concession in the City is legally bound by. This isn't a nefarious plan to put the little guys down--it's just a matter of following the City's laws on the use of public space with due diligence.

ms. masala said...

You say poh-tah-to I say pa-tay-toe.

You write:

"The vendors are not being forced out by the Parks department--they are being asked to participate in the same process that every other concession in the City is legally bound by."

The invitation to participate in the City's long standing, obviously profitable, self-serving concession stand bidding wars is nothing but an expulsion for most of these vendors who can't afford the high price to attend.

What the city is doing is neither nefarious, nor is it a simple matter of legality and due diligence: it's a matter of our City doing whatever it can to stomp out shadow economies of scale because there is no real way for the City to profit, directly from them, without licensure, taxes, leases, etc.

Let's not forget that these community vendors congregated to serve food to their community, at prices their community can afford. Maybe such consumers are not interested in a $6.00 papusa, which, factoring in a concession license, is what the *legal* vendors might have to charge to meet expenses whilst still earning profit.

Hey! Perhaps city should ask Forrest Ratner if they would be interested in setting up a food court at the field or approach IKEA with the suggestion of a sattalite Swedish Meatball Cafe .....

While we are issuing these invitations, perhaps we can start focusing on the summertime lemonaid stands in Park Slope and making sure that they have liscenses too.


R.Robots said...

You know, this "Fill out a form" to send a letter to your congressman is all fine and good...

But if you really care about an issue, you write your own letter in your own words.
On paper. And mail it.

Too often these online forms (especially) and email form letters get dumped in the trash.
(since it's easy to set up filters on the server to flag them, etc)

At least write your own email.

Isaiah said...

Maybe threatening the Councilwoman isn't the best way to get heard?
I don't know anything about Gonzales, to be honest, but I know how I'd react to a letter like the one you've drafted here . . .
That being said, thanks for getting the word out. It would be a real shame if the concessions at the fields ended up anything like the dreadful generic 'neighborhood' street fairs that plague the city all summer.