Midtown food vendors catch lucky break

Eddie Hernando and Paul Sandeep running Faith's Halal Food outside Madison Square Garden

Despite the economic downturn affecting many Manhattan street vendors, Paul Sandeep, 25, and Eddie Hernando, 42, have caught a lucky break at 8th Ave. and 34th St.: the lunchtime influx of construction workers from the massive Madison Square Garden renovation project.

Sandeep and Hernando, who operate Faith’s Halal Food from a tiny, overheated cart across the street from Penn Station, say that they haven’t noticed the impact of the economy at all. “We previously had a truck but have spent seven months with this,” Sandeep said, noting that the city’s crackdown on parked food trucks has actually benefited their business. During their lunch break, construction workers line the sidewalk halfway down 34th St., mostly eating take-out food from boxy styrofoam containers purchased from one of the many vendors dotting the street.

Shah, 52, a newsstand vendor in Midtown, helping a customer.

Other vendors in Midtown, however, have not been so lucky. Shah, 52, from India (who declined to provide his last name), runs a newsstand at the corner of 8th Ave. and 35th St. and decried a 50% decline in sales. “It’s very down,” Shah said, noting that despite his Midtown location, 80% of his sales come from locals and not from tourists. In particular, he said, with the price of a package of cigarettes hitting $13.00, many patrons are choosing to buy cigarettes individually — something he does not sell. “They’re not smoking less,” he said, but being more judicious about controlling their budget.

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