Dec. 1, 2015 By Michael Florio
The king is being challenged.
After moving to a new space at 31st Street and Broadway, the popular King of Falafel food truck was alleged to be a poor neighbor causing disruptions to nearby residents at this month’s 114 Police Precinct meeting.
The building manager of Astoria Tower 31, located at 31-72 31st St., right next to where the King of Falafel parks, spoke out against the food truck and its customers at the meeting.
According to the building manager, many cars and cabs double park in front of the driveway from the building’s underground garage, blocking the way while they wait on line to purchase food from King of Falafel.
“Our parkers can’t get out and when they do they are harassed and at times, almost assaulted,” she said at the precinct meeting. “They are very obnoxious and block the sidewalk.”
She told the Astoria Post that she did not wish to give her name because she lives in Astoria and “didn’t feel like getting attacked” for speaking out against the popular food truck.
However, she added that numerous residents have had issues trying to exit the driveway since the food truck moved near their building in October.
The truck was previously parked for years on Broadway and 30th Street, but had to move due to construction work at the neighboring C-Town. As the Astoria Post reported in October, the truck expects this new location to be temporary.
“One guy is in the military and when he gets called he needs to get out,” she said. “He has gotten blocked two or three times and said it’s ridiculous.”
However, Esam Mohammad, co-owner of the King of Falafel food truck, said he recently became aware of this issue and is looking to put a stop to it.
“Every person [who] comes in a car and if we see them double parked, we tell them to move,” he said. “We don’t serve them if they block the driveway.”
“It’s not nice and it’s inconvenient to block the driveway,” he added.
Mohammad said at times confrontations have risen where customers do not want to move their car.
“We won’t serve them,” he said. “I’d rather lose a customer than lose my neighbors.”
The building manager added that customers throw their garbage on the ground and the building then receives the violations from the Department of Sanitation.
As for the trash, Mohammad said he sets up a garbage can right next to the truck for customers to throw their garbage out. He also said he has his workers go out and dispose of any garbage they see on the sidewalk.
“We are very willing to work with our neighbors,” he said. “We have been in the community for nearly 15 years and have a good relationship.”
The building manager said that she has reached out to Community Board 1 and the Health Department, but the problems remain.
The building manager met with 114 officials after the precinct meeting. She told the Astoria Post that they told her they would reach out to the Health Department to check it out.
“There is not much else they can do as the truck is legal,” she said. “They have a license and are allowed to park where they are.”
She also charged that the food truck sets up chairs in front of neighboring storefronts for its customers.
However, Mohammad said he doesn’t set up chairs.
The truck’s new spot is also in front of Daly’s Pub and Parisi Bakery.
The owner of the pub, who did not wish to give his name, said that he has no complaints about chairs being set up. He added that the food truck has been a good neighbor.
The owner of Parisi Bakery could not be reached for comment.