Inside the Life (and Wallet) of a Street Vendor

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The El Rey del Sabor cart. Photo: Daniel Maurer

Nominations and ticket sales are now open for the 2010 Vendy Awards, but the world of food carts is usually more guts than glory. Consider an Egypt Today profile of two Egyptian immigrants who are hired hands at a midtown lunch cart. They each make about $120 per twelve-hour day, or about $3,500 per month for grueling six- or seven-day weeks. So why don’t they just work for themselves?

Well, if they wanted to rent their own cart it would cost $400 per week, or they could build one for nearly $25,000 — but then there’s the matter of acquiring a permit (which can cost from $6,000 to $15,000 on the black market) and a desirable location (because of its prime midtown location, the cart they currently work once received a buyout offer of $100,000, though it’s said to be worth a quarter of that). Anyway, the article is worth a read, since it goes beyond numbers and pries a little bit into the lives and hearts of these two men — one of them was a well-known soccer player and an accountant with a B.A. in commerce. He’s now on Medicaid.

Hot Dog Dreams [Egypt Today]