At the beginning, a lot of yoga people, lot of celebrities came to NY Dosas, he says. When the media got wind of his venture and SVP launched its now-famed Vendy Awards in 2005, though, business really picked up. The Vendys are an annual picnic-style celebration, a fundraising effort and a way to highlight small business owners.
Written up first by New York magazine in 2002, NY Dosas is covered with clips from newspapers around the world. Here is one from China, he says — and one from France, Japan and London. Kumar’s cart also displays the coveted Vendy Cup certificate, which he won in 2007 after years of being voted into the vending community’s yearly street food competition.
Kumar’s story is that of the American dream: An immigrant moves to New York City and makes it big with an idea. But Kumar’s story is also very much his own, that of a man who wanted to do things differently, a man ready to charge toward even the biggest challenges.
To open a food cart in the city takes two steps, explains Street Vendor Project’s staff attorney Matt Shapiro. As a nonprofit, SVP helps vendors with daily difficulties like ticketing, and builds a community that can make citywide change on their behalf. The first step is the license, administered by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and consisting of food safety classes and various certificates. Second, vendors require a permit, which includes applications, inspections and other steps. With these two components in hand, one can open a food cart.
After looking into exactly what was needed to open a cart, Kumar acquired the food vending license after three and a half years. Instead of trying to get a regular permit, though, he opted for a special one that allows him to vend specifically in Washington Square Park (the only place at the time with vegan restaurants, he says).
Kumar saved up for several years, designed his very own cart (akin to New York’s classic silver hot dog stands), and began telling family and friends that his new venture was a South Indian vegan food cart. Read more…