ZURIK: Council moves to allow more pushcart vendors in French Quarter, end Lucky Dogs’ monopoly

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 10:37 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the first time in decades, the New Orleans City Council begins efforts to expand permits to vendors who want to sell food in the French Quarter. The talks come after a series of Fox 8 investigations that highlighted what some call a monopoly for one company.

An ordinance that went into effect in April 1972 prevents all but one company from getting permits to sell food on the sidewalks and street corners of the French Quarter. The ordinance outlines that the only way to obtain a permit is for a vendor to have continuously operated the same business in the French Quarter for eight or more years prior to Jan. 1, 1972. At the time, essentially only one company -- Lucky Dogs -- qualified.

Local vendors say the ordinance has shut them out of the popular tourist area.

Councilman Freddie King, who oversees the council district including the French Quarter is pushing to change the ordinance and allow more vendors. He says changes could benefit small businesses that can’t afford a brick-and-mortar location.

“My goal is to make this happen. I want to make this happen,” King said. “I believe this council has shown that it is a council about diversity and about giving everyone an equal opportunity and taking on those challenges and those laws or ordinances that weren’t addressed in the past.”

Local hot dog vendor Jimmy Robb, who owns Glizzies by Poppa, said he thinks allowing more vendors will increase competition.

“The (French) Quarter is like the most lucrative part of the city, and where …. people like me … want to chase the American dream,” Robb said. “I feel like it’s time for change, or even give some competition for Lucky Dogs to keep them honest in the French Quarter about the product that they sell.”

Potential vendor Phil Druyor says selling from carts could help budding businesses to grow.

“Starting a business at this size means that it’s easy to scale. It allows business owners to make good decisions, and does end up putting them in brick-and-mortar situations, which I think we all agree helps the city,” Druyor said.

Council president J.P. Morrell, vice president Helena Moreno and a French Quarter residents association also spoke in favor of the changes at a Monday meeting. However, many stressed the need to strike a balance between supporting small businesses and preserving the charm of the French Quarter.

“I think that future mobile vending operators need a very specific and detailed operational allowances,” Director of VCPORA Erin Holmes said. “We want to make sure that these are concentrated reasonably in areas that they’re going to receive the most business. And so, these are in the heavily touristed areas of the entertainment and commercial districts and not in the residential areas.”

King said he hopes to meet with residents and businesses and expects to introduce legislation to change the ordinance in early 2024.

Morrell said he wants to explore opening areas of the Central Business District and Warehouse District to cart vendors as well. He says opening those areas could benefit vendors who want to sell food after big events such as Saints games and concerts.

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