May 23 2012
What was once a beautiful, mostly Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, is going downhill fast with the influx of Muslim halal food venders, stinking up the streets with their foul-smelling food.
CBS It’s a case of street vendor vs. local businesses in Brooklyn. A turf war is brewing in Bay Ridge, where some local brick and mortar stores are saying one cart is causing trouble.
Sammy Kassen, who manages the food cart, says he feels like he has been treated like an “animal” by some local business owners, who want him and his cart out of the neighborhood. The corner of 86th Street and 5th Avenue becomes a popular place to grab something quick to eat at lunch time. The halal food cart at the location has been on the same corner for the past three years, but in the past three months, some local businesses have been vocal about getting the cart to leave.
They’re kind of taking away from all the local businesses — Burger King, McDonald’s, the pizzeria, the Pork Store, everyone,” Tony Gentile, owner of the Lone Star Bar, told CBS 2′s John Schriffen.
Gentile’s establishment is down the block from the cart and he said it is ruining the neighborhood’s quality of life. “You can’t come down the block half the time because the corner is so crowded. There’s filth all over the floors,” he said.
The manager of the cart disagrees and claims he’s the one being harassed when the local businesses call the city to have his permits checked. “I feel like an animal. I feel like I’m not being respected like a human being. I’m a tax-paying business like anybody else. I’m a good citizen,” manager Sammy Kassen said.
Kassen is now fighting back. His lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to the owner of the the Lone Star Bar for allegedly making false claims. He is also asking for support from the community and has posted a sign asking all fans to join the cart’s Facebook page.
Kassen, who insists his permits are up to date and that he’s allowed to stay on the block, said he has no plans on leaving and hopes everyone can learn to get along.