Vendor showdown: The foodcart with no food

061209vendorThe food cart is empty, the grill off, and there’s a guy sitting on a cooler playing an acoustic bass while a small crowd gathers around him.  The cart owner slings business cards that call for a boycott of a neighboring pizza joint, not hot dogs; and a menu board decries those who have forced him out of business.

In this week’s Worcester Magazine, we’ll report on a true street-level battle at the intersection of business and politics.

Dan Mascroft, a hot dog slinging street vendor, is currently prohibited from selling food at his usual weekend-night location outside of Jose Murphy’s on Water Street despite the fact that several neighboring businesses have signed off on his city paperwork.  That’s because he can’t get the signature from one business: Blackstone Freshway Pizza, diagonally across the street from his usual setup.

Mascroft has taken to setting up his cart anyway.  Instead of food, he tells anyone asking for food about his situation, and asks them to sign a petition to allow him to open.  As of Friday night, after a few nights of the empty-foodcart, Mascroft says he’s collected about 90 total signatures (He’s also started gathering signatures for a potential City Council campaign).

Blackstone Freshway employee John Youseff calls the issue one of unfair competition, and says he wouldn’t have a problem if Mascroft actually invested in a bricks and mortar business, with the same costs and fees.

Mascroft says he’s not interested in running a fulltime business, and is merely serving an underserved population.

“I’m more negatively effecting his business now than if I was selling hot dogs.”

Read more about this story in Thursday’s edition of Worcester Magazine.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Vendor showdown: The foodcart with no food

  1. To state that the competition hasn’t made the same investment, is ludicrous. But let’s take Freshway’s argument and apply it to them. Mascroft made his investment, so why shouldn’t Freshway? And what’s the investment anyway? $175 for a used hot dog grille? Then they too could peddle dogs? Let’s try this question on for size. What would Freshway do if another pizza shop open up next door? Capitulate or compete?
    Isn’t it the same problem as the taxi guy the other week who whined about unfair competition with Hispanic liveries. Quit whining dude, it’s the taxi company’s problem, not yours. If your employer doesn’t want to compete, then don’t blame the competition. Blame your boss.
    Mascroft is right, when he says, “I’m more negatively effecting his business now than if I was selling hot dogs.” Ironic huh?

  2. Interesting post, bad publicity on Freshway’s part, they certainly come off like tools on this one.

    Second only to the city council of course.

  3. MMMDogs

    Unfair competition is really their angle?
    Do they think they can actually serve all the people that frequent that area on a Friday or Saturday night? That’s laughable, has anyone actually been in there? If you haven’t, don’t bother.
    If Mr. Mascroft brough bricks to stack around his cart at night would he be ok or is it the City just looking for more money? Do they make more money by him not being there? What’s their stake in it anyway? Let the working class work!

  4. Chris

    So say Freshway Pizza invested $100k or less in their shop…Jose Murphy’s renovations cost far more than that. Why can’t Jose’s have Freshway shutdown? That should be the case if you go by Freshway’s philosophy.

    Since this happened I and many people I know have been spreading the word to boycott Freshway Pizza. In fact, a local bar that allows food deliveries has “DO NOT RECOMMEND FRESHWAY” written in their menu folder!

    Also, as much is it sucks that Freshway is doing this, they should never have had the opportunity. Its our utterly useless half dozen city councilors that are the problem here.

  5. free liberty

    From what I understand, even a hotdog stand has many costs that I think aren’t given credit to. I’m sure he can’t just go buy everything at Sams and call it a day. I’l bet the local economy does much better with these guys around than the difference between how much Fresh Way ‘says’ they’re loosing.
    I used to manage a pizza joint back in my day. Did you know a large cheese pizza can be made for less than $2? Sold for $10, $12, $14!! Fresh Way is doing quite fine so quit pickin on the little guy, some people don’t want your grease pizza! I for one am a weiner woman!

  6. Chris

    Your right. Even the simplest cart like Dan’s is a few thousand dollars up front, plus almost $600 in permits, plus liability insurance, among other costs. Enclosed trailers and driveable trucks can range from $10k up to $80k+. Just ask Elm Park Hot Dogs what his weekly expenses are and what local stores he buys from and supports. Propane, gasoline, rolls, dogs, wax paper, napkins, condiments, etc etc…..BIG money into the local economy. These are legit businesses that people have invested time and money in getting started. They deserve more respect from both the council and unFreshway Pizza.

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