Every week, residents and Yale students purchase hundreds of slices of pizza from the two trucks stationed regularly on campus, but local pizzeria owners are calling the situation unfair.
Since mid-October, New Haven Pizza Truck has set up outside Sprague Memorial Hall on College Street, while Big Green Truck Pizza has parked outside the Apple store on Broadway every Monday since the beginning of the school year. Both trucks are stationed less than one block away from sit-down pizzerias, whose managers claim that the food trucks present them with too much competition.
“Sometimes I don’t think it’s fair for them to be around where there is another pizza place,” said Marilda Marrichi, co-manager of Wall Street Pizza.
Before New Haven Pizza Truck arrived just around the corner from Wall Street Pizza, another pizza truck had been set up in the same spot.
George Koutroumanis, owner and manager of Yorkside Pizza, said that the situation is unfair because his business has to comply with laws from which the street vendors are exempt, such as sanitary regulations and higher fixed costs. In total, he said he pays around $110,000 per year in overhead.
In contrast, street vendors are only required to pay around $500 in itinerant food service fees to the city, according to the city of New Haven website.
To protect small independent restaurants, Koutroumanis suggested that the city increase the licensing fees for street vendors or limit the areas in which they are allowed to operate.
But Frank Bernardo Sr., owner of New Haven Pizza Truck, said that his family-run pizza business has played a role in New Haven for decades. Bernardo’s father opened a pizzeria when he moved from Naples, Italy, to New Haven in the 1950s. Bernardo said he grew up watching his father make pizza.
Now, Bernardo’s mother helps prepare the toppings at their prep kitchen, while his brother and his two children work the truck — a 1946 international firetruck he converted into a food truck. He also mentioned that two of his other siblings work for the Big Green Truck.
Big Green Truck Pizza is a larger operation, with a fleet of five trucks around Connecticut.
Though it only comes to Broadway once a week, the Big Green Truck stays on the street longer than the New Haven Pizza Truck, which starts serving at 11:00 a.m. and leaves around 3:00 p.m.
“I’ll get here at 9 o’clock in the morning to set up, and I won’t leave until I run out of dough. So usually about 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock at night,” said Vincent Perricone, who works for the Big Green Truck.
Students interviewed said that the city should not take any additional measures to help restaurants being threatened by the competition brought on by the pizza trucks.
“Food trucks have found a way to reduce their fixed costs,” Leah Surratt ’18 said. “They shouldn’t be punished for that.”
Carol Finke ’18 agreed, saying that she does not think the situation is unfair, since restaurants could also create their own stands around campus.
Still, only eight out of 30 Yale students surveyed said that they had ever bought a piece of pizza from one of the trucks.
KB Knapp ’18 and Phil Huffard ’18 both said that they had never bought slices because they are always on their way to class and do not have time to stop.
“The pizza truck looks good, but I’ve just never gotten the chance to buy a piece of pizza from it,” Knapp said.