With the opening of a new picnic area beside Pauli Murray College, patrons of the food carts stationed near Ingalls Rink now have a new seating option.
The area is essentially an extension of the food cart district, which was established in April when the Board of Alders passed legislation rewriting New Haven’s food vendor rules. On Aug. 15, after Yale had wrapped up the construction of its two new residential colleges, the majority of food carts at Ingalls Rink moved from the rink’s parking lot to the nearby sidewalk.
Despite the University funding the project, food truck operators interviewed expressed ambivalence about the addition’s effect on business but were glad that their customers now have a convenient spot to enjoy their cuisine.
“Some people do go to the tables and sit. We appreciate that the tables are there,” said Abderazzak Abina, who runs the Kati Roll food cart. “Our busiest time of the day is between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The tables are handy at that point.”
Abina said the street gets crowded during peak hours and that the benches are helpful because they give customers a place to sit. He described the green area as beautiful and said it represents a great addition to the district.
Lam Nguyen, operator of Japanese Style Cuisine, expressed similar feelings about the green space and benches. He noted that the separation between customers coming to get the food and then having a place to go eat was comparable to an outdoor restaurant.
Nguyen, who previously operated a food cart near the Yale School of Medicine, said the new area provides a dimension that other food cart districts still lack.
“Usually, I work on Cedar Street near the medical schooland I notice that the people take their food, and then they are ready to leave,” Nguyen said. “But this week, I had a chance to work here at Ingalls Rink. I see that the people that are not in a rush will take their food to the benches and eat it there. It would be nice if the medical school had a space like that.”
Still, Moabbo Hirata — owner of the Mecha Uma — said he expects the district to remain the same. But Hirata added that he appreciates that the space is there, especially since the city recently ordered food carts to move out of the Ingalls Rink parking lot and onto the sidewalk.
By Oct. 15, the remaining six food trucks in the Ingalls Rink lot will move to the sidewalk adjacent to the newly opened bench area.
Isha Dalal | firstname.lastname@example.org