VENDOR GETS COUNCIL TO PICK UP THE PACE

cin-snail1Lines formed often at the Cinnamon Snail vegan food truck at the farmers market in Red Bank this summer and fall. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi: click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Adam Sobel wakes up well before dawn Monday through Friday, hops in his kitchen-on-wheels and hauls up to Hoboken for a day’s work parked on the streets of Hoboken slinging gourmet vegan dishes to commuters and passersby.

A resident of Chestnut Street in Red Bank, he’d rather not. If Sobel had his druthers, he’d cut his commute to somewhere within the 1.7-square miles of the town where he lives with his wife and children.

In the last couple of months he’s tried to make it that way, by pushing the borough council and RiverCenter to allow him to operate in town. But aside from stationing his truck on the private property of the Galleria parking lot each Sunday at the Red Bank Farmers Market through the summer and early autumn, Sobel has done little more than spin his wheels.

Until Monday night, that is, when, with fanbase well-represented in the council chambers, Sobel got the council to see things his way.

cin-snail2A crowd gave a round of applause to Adam Sobel for getting the council to reconsider. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

Current ordinance makes it difficult, or as Sobel will tell you, nearly impossible, for mobile food vendors to operate in town. They must be shark-like, required under local law to move to a different spot every 10 minutes. And there are more than two dozen verboten locations, like White Street, where Sobel spent a couple of Friday nights in recent months until a recent amendment put even that location off-limits.

Which prompted him to return to borough hall in an effort to sway the council to reconsider its position on mobile dining.

It appears to have worked.

Sobel suggested a couple ways to make his business, which is quickly gaining statewide attention — Cinnamon Snail was nominated this year for a “Vendy” award, “which is like the Oscars of food vending,” Sobel says — a local one.

“It seems really silly that the community here wants us so badly, and the current ordinance won’t allow it, so we have to take our business elsewhere,” Sobel said.

He proposed that the council grandfather his operation in to allow him to serve on borough streets since he was doing so before the changes were made; to designate one or more sections in the borough to allow vendors; or to auction off a limited number of permits.

That’s the idea that raised Mayor Pasquale Menna’s eyebrows.

“You’ve given us some food for thought,” he told Sobel. “I think some of the suggestions may have some traction. There might be something we can do as a governing body.”

Council chambers was then filled with applause by the dozens in attendance.

“I think you got your message across,” Menna said.