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10/14/2016

Food Carts Get a High-End Reboot - WSJ

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http://www.wsj.com/articles/foodcartsgetahighendreboot1457089201

U.S. | NEWYORK | METROMONEY


FoodCartsGetaHigh-EndReboot

MRV100trailerhasacomputerizedhybridenergysystemandcanbeleasedfor$1amonth

JoeUrbina'sfoodcartnearNewYorkCityHall.PHOTO:ADRIENNEGRUNWALDFORTHEWALLSTREETJOURNAL

ByANNEKADET
UpdatedMarch4,20169:14a.m.ET

JoeUrbinasstreet-cartmenuissimilartothoseofferedbycompetitorsaroundthecity:
eggsandwiches,hamburgers,coffee,muffinsthesizeofababyshead.Buthehasonebig
advantagetheCadillacoffoodcarts.
Unlikethetypicalaluminumcart,hissteelMRV100trailerboastsarefrigerator,sink
andcomputerizedhybridenergysystemthatalternatesbetweensolar,natural-gasand
batterypower,ratherthananoisygasolineordieselgenerator.Theopenfrontmakesit
easytochatwithcustomers.Soontocomeapayment-cardsystem.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/food-carts-get-a-high-end-reboot-1457089201

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10/14/2016

Food Carts Get a High-End Reboot - WSJ

Itsabigimprovementoverhislastcart,asmoky,noisybeastthatwashardtoclean.
Theoldway,fuhgeddaboudit,hesays.
Butthebestpartmaybetherent.Mr.Urbinaleasesthetrailerfor$1amonth.
Inreturn,MOVESystems,theQueens-basedcompanyunleashinghundredsofthese
cartsthroughoutthecity,hopestomakemoneyonpayment-cardinterchangefeesand
cart-sideadvertising,alongwithnatural-gassales.

MOREMETROMONEYCOLUMNS
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RockawaysBlockHasSeenBetterDaysSept.23,2016
LivingItUpat100YearsOldSept.16,2016

Yes,eventhehumbleurbanfood
cartisbeingtargetedinthequest
forsleek,corporateefficiency.Its
unsettling,butthechangecould
makelifeeasierforNewYorks
4,700-plusmobilefoodvendors
heroes,inmybookwhoworklong
hoursintoughconditionsserving
morethanamillioncustomersa
day.

Mr.Urbina,a52-yearoldArmyveteranandretiredairlinemechanic,sayshisdaystarts
at4a.m.athisForestHills,Queens,homewhereheloadshisSUVwithhotdogs,
hamburgersandeggspurchasedfromCostcoorBJs.
Nextstop:anAstoriabakeryformuffinsandrolls.ThenhellfetchhiscartfromaLong
IslandCitycommissary.By5:30a.m.hesservingcoffeeattheusualintersectionnear
CityHall.Iknowtheregularswillbelookingforme,andIliketobethere,hesays.My
wordismybond.
Heservesbreakfastandlunchallday,mostlytocityworkers,callingthembuddyor
hon.Ahomelessmanmightgetafreepastry.Heclosesat4p.m.andhaulsthecart
backtoQueensforawash,arrivinghomeintimefordinner.IllsitdownandwatchFox
Newstill9:30or10,thenlightsout,hesays.
Mr.Urbinasayshetakesin$400to$700aday.Butexpensesarehigh.Asidefromthe
costofprovisionsandmaintaininghisSUV,hepays$350amonthtostorehiscartand
$7to$12adaytoMOVEfornaturalgas.Heestimateshistake-homepayat$200aday.
MOVEsaysitscartswouldretailforabout$55,000,makingthemtooexpensiveformost
foodvendorshencethebetonalternativerevenuesources.Thegoalistoprovethe
utilityofitshigh-techmobileenergysystem,whichcanpowersystemsonvehicles
rangingfromambulancestodog-groomingtrucks.
Itsbeenaslowstart.AfterasplashyCityHallnewsconferenceannouncingthefood
cartprogramlastMay,MOVEhasjustoveradozencartsonthestreet,itsays,including
http://www.wsj.com/articles/food-carts-get-a-high-end-reboot-1457089201

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10/14/2016

Food Carts Get a High-End Reboot - WSJ

aKorean
stand
anda
vegan
vendor.
Presiden
tand
CEO
James
Meeks
Amoretraditionalfoodcarton55thStreet.PHOTO:ADRIENNEGRUNWALDFORTHEWALLSTREETJOURNAL

saysthe
company
has

signedleaseswithmorethan400additionalvendors,nottomentionapartnershipwith
NathansFamous.TheglobalhotdoggianthasseveralMOVEcartsonthestreets.
MOVEalsohassomeheavyweightbacking.Amonginvestorsparticipatinginarecent
fundingroundwasFisherBrothers,acommercialandresidentialreal-estatedeveloper
whichownsseveralMidtownofficetowers.
Partner
Winston
Fisher
sayshe
got
interest
edin
food
carts
while
plannin
gthe
CustomerslineupatJoeUrbina'sfoodcart.PHOTO:ADRIENNEGRUNWALDFORTHEWALLSTREETJOURNAL

$50
million
lobbyandplazarenovationofitsmassivetowerat1345SixthAve.Hesconcernedthat
thefoodcartssurroundingthebuildingwillmartheaesthetics.
Hecites,inparticular,thehotdogcarts,Withtoomanyumbrellasontop.
Mr.Fishersayssomepropertyownerswouldliketobanishthecartsaltogether.Buthes
astreet-foodfan.SomeofthebestgyrosIveeverhadwerefromRafiqis,hesays,
addingthathewantsthecartstostaywithimprovements.
Buildingownerswillwelcomethesenewcartswithopenarms,Mr.Fisherpredicts.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/food-carts-get-a-high-end-reboot-1457089201

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10/14/2016

Food Carts Get a High-End Reboot - WSJ

Iliketheoldcarts,withtheirsurreal,glowingchickenphotos,incomprehensiblemenus
andmysterywhitesauce.Thenewcartfacades,designedbyMOVEbrandingexperts,are
devoidofweirdspellingerrors,flashinglightsor,indeed,anytraceofimperfection.

WEWANTTOHEARFROMYOU

HavesomethingtosayaboutanarticleinGreaterNewYork?Emailus,alongwith
yourcontactinformation,atgnyltrs@wsj.com.Letterswillbeeditedforbrevityand
clarity.Pleaseincludeyourcityandstate.
Theyarealsotoborrowatechnicaltermadorable.Brightlypaintedandsturdy,they
looklikecircuswagons.
Besides,Imnottheonewhohastostandinacartalldaylong.MohamedMegahed,who
mansoneofthenewNathanscartsonColumbusCircleafteryearstendinghotdogand
kebabstandsalloverthecity,saysitsarelieftogetawayfromthefumes,noiseand
complaintsgeneratedbyhispreviouscarts.
Witharegularcart,youhavetoworryabouttoomanythings,hesays.Thismakesit
easy.
WritetoAnneKadetatAnne.Kadet@wsj.com

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