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Councilors want to make it easier for people to launch small food carts

Boston could stand more delicious street food - and people selling it - councilors said today, calling for a dramatic simplification in the process for people to begin selling food from simple, inexpensive, hand-pushed carts.

The City Council agreed to start studying ways to cut the red tape they say now makes it too expensive and cumbersome for people who "lack capital and political connections" to "cook up simple delicious food to sell outside," City Councilor Brian Worrell (Dorchester, Mattapan) said.

Under a proposal by Worrell and Councilors Julia Mejia (at large) and Gabriela Coletta (East Boston, Charlestown, North End), the city would set up designated push-cart zones - similar to the ways food trucks have designated zones to park - for use by people with carts to sell their food - and a simplified application process for getting a permit.

Because such carts are far less expensive than brick-and-mortar restaurants and even food trucks, they would become "another tool for economic mobility in Boston," especially among immigrant communities, Coletta said. Already, she said, budding entrepreneurs are tempting the fates by offering arepas, tamales and fruit from baby strollers, shopping carts and the backs of pickup trucks outside the Maverick and Airport T stops.

Coletta said designating specific zones for the pushcarts would keep them from becoming a threat to restaurants or food trucks - similar to the way the city limited food trucks to specific parking area when it moved to expand their numbers.

However, she said pushcarts might not even be a threat to restaurants. She said that when pushcarts were pushed out of one particular part of Brooklyn, restaurants actually saw their business decline because of the loss of food traffic.

Mejia said people who want to start serving under an umbrella today have to resort to "breaking the DaVinci Code, basically." Coletta said that, to start, a would be push-cartpreneur has to get separate permits from the health, fire and transportation departments - all in different buildings - and that's even before they then go for a separate state license. "It's a tangled web of bureaucracy," she said.

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Comments

Does it have to be delicious or can it be in line with the usual Boston dining standards?

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...given that apparently people are pissing in your cheerios every day.

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A facility where they store push carts, you will never consume food from a push cart

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Some pushcarts are honestly just people with a good idea trying to eke out a living or move up eventually.

Many pushcarts (in NYC) are people stuck in bad contracts with some frozen-food-pushing goon who gets all the profit and they shove their pushcarts in the back of the same box truck every day 5 or 6 deep and store it in a rat-infested garage each night.

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DTX used to be the spot (maybe still?)

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Have you ever been inside where they stock these places?

I was in one in Everett once.

Beware.

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And in it, Magoo is an Ignatius, plying the backstreets with a cart load of luke warm hot dog water and a few grey, floating franks.

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Is an image I'll never shake, like grey, swollen ticks

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Ignatius has already eaten all the rest...

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The FDA lists what contaminants are allowed in processed food. Insects, copepods accompanied by pus pockets, tiny caterpillars, maggots, fruit flies, rodent hairs.

Yum.

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With regards to food trucks, at least. The sky doesn't fall. "Boo hoo more competition" -- too bad so sad.

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We should also make it easier and cheaper for restaurants to open and stay in business as well. For example the state should allow Boston to make alcohol licenses available at a sane price.

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The politics behind Massachusetts liquor licensing would have given the good folks of Tammany Hall a millennium of sadistic satisfaction.

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Please make this part of the requirements.

Safety inspections for storage facilities and equipment.

Not to add too much of a burden.

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This is great! I think I would rather buy food from someone selling it out of a baby carriage or ranged along the top of a wall somewhere rather than from a cart though. Those can indeed get very dirty, whereas boxes and plate and such can go home and be cleaned or discarded.

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Councilors want to make it easier for people to launch small food carts

Delayed reaction, I know, but...

Now all I can think of is a giant catapult on the Lawn At D Street, large enough to launch small food carts.

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