If you are in downtown Scranton on a nice day you may notice a boom in street-side business.
City officials said there are more street food vendors than ever before.
Workers at Johnnie’s Philly Cheesesteak stand claim they were the first. The street vendor has been setting up shop in Scranton for seven years, and, at first, it was just their cart.
Now, the vendor said, the downtown streets are beginning to look more like a big city.
“Scranton is a new urban trend, this is the new Scran-hattan. It’s become the meeting place between new York and Philly,” said street vendor Eddie Farmer.
You may notice more food vendors nowadays, not just because of the nicer weather, but because of the economy. The owner of one cart opened up two weeks ago after his Mexican restaurant went under.
Scranton’s Director of Permits Mark Seitzinger said the city has more food vendors on the streets than ever before and an overwhelming amount of aspiring vendors applying for permits.
“We actually have a waiting list for vendors in the city because we just don’t have anywhere for them to go,” Seitzinger said.
There is limited space for street vendors in Scranton. There is a city ordinance that says street vendors need to stay at least 100 feet away from established restaurants.
“We don’t want to hurt a business, we don’t want to hurt the vendor but at the same time we have to protect the people who pay the mercantile tax in the city of Scranton and have established businesses in Scranton,” Seitzinger added.
Ernie Crumb, who left his corporate job to run a hot dog cart on Courthouse Square, can’t speak for restaurant owners but he says the boom in vendors hasn’t hurt his business.
“There’s a real positive feel going on in the area, so if we have street carts out here, if we have food vendors out here, it only shows that things are moving in a positive way,” Crumb said.
The reaction hasn’t been all positive. City officials said they have received complaints about the street vendors taking up parking spots, but customers said they aren’t complaining.