Urban Oyster’s odyssey through the world of street food started back in September 2009 during New York Craft Beer Week, when we had the pleasure to go on a tour of Midtown’s food carts with Mark Foggin. Mark had been a longtime patron of the carts during his workdays in Manhattan’s office towers, and he periodically offered an informal tour of some of the best food in the neighborhood. We fell in love with the concept, and we embarked on a partnership with him to make the tour a regular fixture of Urban Oyster’s offerings.
What followed was many months of research, relationship building, and trial and error. We used our expertise in historical research to delve into the history of street vendors in New York City. We reached out to organizations like the Street Vendor Project to learn about the ins and outs of running these small businesses and the challenges vendors face on a daily basis. We interviewed the vendors and learned the stories of how they got into the industry. We recruited Brian Hoffman, a tour guide extremely knowledgeable about the New York food scene, from fine dining to street vending (and an accomplished food blogger – check out his writing at Eat This NY), to give the tours. We created and printed custom-made maps of the carts and trucks in the area to give to our visitors. And we painstakingly crafted our tour route, content and other logistics by running several test tours before we offered a single ticket to the public. All of this was a great investment of time, money, and effort, but it was all worth it.
When we heard that someone else will be offering a tour of street food in Midtown, we wanted to welcome New York Street Food to the tour business. However, a few facts deserve mention here. Last year, we invited Perry Resnick, who runs New York Street Food, to come on our tour free of charge – a common practice with members of the media who want to write about a tour – hoping that his blog would help us get the word out about our tour. He did join us for the tour, but unfortunately, he did not mention us on his blog; he did, however, write a post about vendors featured on our tour, using information learned on the tour, without any attribution or even reference to Urban Oyster.
In addition to providing unique tour experiences, Urban Oyster’s mission is to highlight and support the independent businesses and entrepreneurs of New York City, such as the owners of the carts and trucks that we visit on our tours. If this new tour brings them more business and exposure, then we are all for it, and we are not afraid of competition. We always hope that our visitors are better informed and more conscientious after going on one of our tours; with that educational focus in mind, we offer this to our readers simply so that they can be better informed consumers. We work very hard at what we do, and we appreciate the hard work of others. In every aspect of our business, we respect intellectual property rights, and we try to never misrepresent ourselves. We just wish that others in this business would do the same. Judge for yourself – join us for a tour, and we are confident that you, like so many of our visitors, will come back to Urban Oyster again and again.
Join us for a Food Cart Tour! We offer several tours a week, so check our tour calendar for availability.
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