Hoboken People’s Court: Everyone vs. Ali

Ali’s Food Truck under fire again in Hoboken, NJ

Back in 2009, Ali’s Food Truck was suddenly the subject of controversy, when a new restaurant around the corner (Rome Pizza) was struggling for business – and blamed Ali for their economic woes.

Well, that problem went away, as the case was ruled frivolous, and tossed out.

Fast forward to 2011 – and now MORE nearby businesses are blaming Ali for their troubles (will mention who at a later date). These businesses, which are more upscale, dinner establishments – think that Ali again is stealing customers that would otherwise patronize them.

Ali has been a staple of downtown Hoboken for over 16 years – and has a distinctly different client base than these brick & mortar restaurants. The breakfast & lunch crowd, people who want to eat on the go (commuters), or those looking to get a quick meal for under $3.00. Not the same crowd who spends $40 at lunch every day on fancy burgers and cocktails.

So now, these businesses have clamored to Hoboken City Hall about Ali, and he’s getting hassled again. About where he parks, for how long, and so on.

Do you think brick & mortar restaurants have a legitimate gripe? Or are they just jealous?

Original Complaint letter regarding Ali’s Food Truck

5/28/2009 Update:

I got my hands on the original complaint letter regarding Ali’s Food Truck. Click image below to see what it entailed…

Also – it appears that a huge wave of supporters visited Ali this afternoon and evening to sign the petition (read comments to this article).

ali-food-on-wheels-complaint-letter-lolicato-hoboken-nj

Court is now in session

5/28/2009:

Have you heard of the situation downtown involving the new Rome Pizzeria and the longtime Ali’s Food on Wheels lunch truck? Dozens of emails were sent to Hoboken411 inquiring about this debacle – and today, I present you with “Hoboken People’s Court!” where I state their arguments – and YOU decide!

ali-food-on-wheels-lunch-truck-hoboken-rome-pizzeria

Case #001: Rome Pizzeria vs. Ali’s Food on Wheels

  • Plaintiff: Rome Pizzeria (20 Hudson Place, Hoboken NJ)
  • Defendant: Ali’s Food on Wheels (lives an hour outside of Hoboken – but sells his food products on River Street)

The “Charges”: The Plaintiff says the Defendant is improperly operating his food truck – and that it’s taking away customers from local brick and mortar businesses.

Plaintiff Rome Pizzeria’s Argument:

Owner John Lolicato Says: (in no particular order)

  • “Ali’s Food on Wheels (“the lunch truck”) operates too closely to competing businesses”
  • “The lunch truck parks in front of the hydrant”
  • “Other business owners are not happy with it – but are afraid to put their “name on paper” and file a formal complaint”
  • “They are in direct violation of the Peddler’s License Agreement with the city” (click to read it) [411 Note: These are the clauses he’s referring to: – No person covered by this Article shall sell or attempt to sell, in accordance with the terms of this Article, except as set forth in the preceding subsection, before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. prevailing time. – No licensee shall park his vehicle or dispensing container for a period longer than the time it takes to make a sale to a customer.]
  • “They can undermine the prices of other businesses, because they don’t have the same overhead, etc.”
  • “The city knows they’re in violation – but never does anything about it.”

Defendant Ali’s Rebuttal:

  • “I’ve operated this food truck from the same spot for 18 years without a single complaint.”
  • “I always put money in the meter.”
  • “I do park in front of the hydrant – but move it once a parking spot becomes available. And don’t see an issue – because just like the Mr. Softee ice cream truck – the vehicle is always manned by a driver, and can be immediately moved in case of fire.”
  • “Because I’ve been allowed by the city of Hoboken to operate this business in the exact same manner for so many years – without summons – Hoboken has set a legal precedent – and cannot force me to move, regardless of what the Peddler’s Ordinance says.”
  • “I have hundreds or even thousands of regular customers that love my food and fair prices – and no other business, including the bars/restaurants across the street have a problem with me. In fact, they often order lunch from me too!”
  • “Rome Pizzeria should have known my truck is parked here every day when they made the business decision to open up a restaurant around the corner.”

Other story notes:

Rome Pizzeria filed a formal complaint with Frank Sasso, city Health Inspector. And as a result, since the complaint has been documented – Lolicato says that the police are forced to move the truck every day. Ali disagrees with that – and says that it’s in fact Rome Pizzeria calling the Hoboken Police on a daily basis asking that the truck get moved.

Additionally – Ali has a petition from loyal customers (hundreds of signatures as of this publication date) – that support Ali’s food truck – and want him to remain where he always has.

Ali drives an hour each way – each day – to sell his food to weary PATH commuters and area businesses, and operates approximately between the hours of 6:30am – 3:00pm.

What is your verdict?

Have you frequented Ali’s Food Truck? Does Ali’s argument make sense? Or should the city abide by the laws it enacts? Is this just the case of a struggling new business owner trying to eradicate any and all competition?

Gallery:

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109 Comments on "Hoboken People’s Court: Everyone vs. Ali"


Member
HomeTeam
6 years 3 months ago

Wow, Rome makes horrible pizza and can’t accept that fact so they beat up on Ali? Boooooo. Here’s to your quick demise and conversion back into a real estate office Rome Pizza.

Member
6 years 3 months ago

If we are talking LAW and not talking about heart, then i’d side with Rome Pizza. It doesn’t matter that the guy got away with it for 18 years and he is now being called out on it. Law is the law.

On the other hand, what Hoboken should attempt to do is what NYC does. We offer sidewalks to vendors to sell their food. Why can’t Hoboken do the same? A person like Ali can lease a sidewalk from the city, to bring in a vendor cart and sell his food that way, instead of a large truck which blocks traffic, fire hydrants and sidewalks.

Then, the city gets revenue from leasing a sidewalk, much like NYC also does.

Member
Monroe Man
6 years 3 months ago

I say screw Roma Pizza. Food carts are a dying breed, and offer a cool look back. Very blue collar, and I dig it.

In response to Furey who said:
If we are talking LAW and not talking about heart, then i’d side with Rome Pizza. It doesn’t matter that the guy got away with it for 18 years and he is now being called out on it. Law is the law.

On the other hand, what Hoboken should attempt to do is what NYC does. We offer sidewalks to vendors to sell their food. Why can’t Hoboken do the same? A person like Ali can lease a sidewalk from the city, to bring in a vendor cart and sell his food that way, instead of a large truck which blocks traffic, fire hydrants and sidewalks.

Then, the city gets revenue from leasing a sidewalk, much like NYC also does.

Member
sah
6 years 3 months ago

He has a permit to operate his truck just like hot dog guys are required to do. Leave the guy alone! And how is he competing with a pizza joint? By serving egg sandwiches? If Rome Pizza’s argument held water, then the City should close down every pizza joint in town. Give me a break! There are all kinds of ways of building your business but trying to make up for your lousy food by trying to drive your lawful competitors out of business with underhanded tactics isn’t one of them. Long live Ali!

In response to Furey who said:
If we are talking LAW and not talking about heart, then i’d side with Rome Pizza. It doesn’t matter that the guy got away with it for 18 years and he is now being called out on it. Law is the law.

On the other hand, what Hoboken should attempt to do is what NYC does. We offer sidewalks to vendors to sell their food. Why can’t Hoboken do the same? A person like Ali can lease a sidewalk from the city, to bring in a vendor cart and sell his food that way, instead of a large truck which blocks traffic, fire hydrants and sidewalks.

Then, the city gets revenue from leasing a sidewalk, much like NYC also does.

Member
6 years 3 months ago

first off, who is Rome Pizza anyhow- I’ve lived and worked here 10 years and never even heard of them. Like I even care what a pizza place has to say, there are plenty of them to eat at and I certainly won’t consider Rome after this complaint. Fast cooking Ali is a well respected businessman in the area- one of few offering fair prices to the people – he runs a tight ship and is very professional… Rome pizza couldn’t hold Ali’s jockstrap. Word to the wise…don’t mess with Ali, he’s got a lot of friends in Hoboken over the years and people respect him…I see Rome Pizza having to shut down within the year from lack of customers after people hear they are attacking good ol Ali.

quit your complaining and make some better pizza…

In response to sah who said:
He has a permit to operate his truck just like hot dog guys are required to do. Leave the guy alone! And how is he competing with a pizza joint? By serving egg sandwiches? If Rome Pizza’s argument held water, then the City should close down every pizza joint in town. Give me a break! There are all kinds of ways of building your business but trying to make up for your lousy food by trying to drive your lawful competitors out of business with underhanded tactics isn’t one of them. Long live Ali!

Member
6 years 3 months ago

A year? Try 3 months. Not much of a chance they last long in the spot they are in.

In response to hotfootjr who said:
first off, who is Rome Pizza anyhow- I’ve lived and worked here 10 years and never even heard of them. Like I even care what a pizza place has to say, there are plenty of them to eat at and I certainly won’t consider Rome after this complaint. Fast cooking Ali is a well respected businessman in the area- one of few offering fair prices to the people – he runs a tight ship and is very professional… Rome pizza couldn’t hold Ali’s jockstrap. Word to the wise…don’t mess with Ali, he’s got a lot of friends in Hoboken over the years and people respect him…I see Rome Pizza having to shut down within the year from lack of customers after people hear they are attacking good ol Ali.

quit your complaining and make some better pizza…

Member
Biffy B For Mayor
6 years 3 months ago

Actually, i think you may be wrong. by not acting for 18 years, Hoboken officials have indeed developed legal precident that favors Ali.

When I took the insurance exam, I learned that if there is a situation in which, a policy holder who’s monthy premium is consistantly for example 10 days late (paid on the 20th instead of the 10th) — then by law, the premium due date is the 20th if the insurer does not cancel the policy after a certain amount of late payments.

If the policy holder has a claim that falls on say the 15th — the insurer has to pay the claim (even though the policy holder was not “current” with payment)

With that in mind, Ali very well could be correct in this case.

I think I would need to hear complaints by more than one establishment and therfore Ali stays where he is!

Case Closed!

In response to Furey who said:
If we are talking LAW and not talking about heart, then i’d side with Rome Pizza. It doesn’t matter that the guy got away with it for 18 years and he is now being called out on it. Law is the law.

On the other hand, what Hoboken should attempt to do is what NYC does. We offer sidewalks to vendors to sell their food. Why can’t Hoboken do the same? A person like Ali can lease a sidewalk from the city, to bring in a vendor cart and sell his food that way, instead of a large truck which blocks traffic, fire hydrants and sidewalks.

Then, the city gets revenue from leasing a sidewalk, much like NYC also does.

Member
6 years 3 months ago

Then we can all park illegally by city hall, the police department & the Character Social club? lol

In response to Biffy B For Mayor who said:
Actually, i think you may be wrong. by not acting for 18 years, Hoboken officials have indeed developed legal precident that favors Ali.

When I took the insurance exam, I learned that if there is a situation in which, a policy holder who’s monthy premium is consistantly for example 10 days late (paid on the 20th instead of the 10th) — then by law, the premium due date is the 20th if the insurer does not cancel the policy after a certain amount of late payments.

If the policy holder has a claim that falls on say the 15th — the insurer has to pay the claim (even though the policy holder was not “current” with payment)

With that in mind, Ali very well could be correct in this case.

I think I would need to hear complaints by more than one establishment and therfore Ali stays where he is!

Case Closed!

Member
foodtrucklover
6 years 3 months ago

First, I would like to point out that for any of us that know Ali we know that he wasn’t trying to get away with anything. The truck has been allowed by HOBOKEN to conduct business in this manner long before he became the owner.Why should his livelihood be threatened now because there’s a new player in town. Both businesses should be allowed to continue to exist, people will go eat where they like.

Second, this is ALL about the heart. Rome pizza is a bitter business who thought they could pick on the small guy. They are obviously not doing well, and think that by knocking out a hardworking man their business will prosper. Take a look at the menu’s, the two estabishments share JUST THREE food items in common. So, in relaity how much is Ali’s food truck really competing with Rome pizza?!

In response to Furey who said:
If we are talking LAW and not talking about heart, then i’d side with Rome Pizza. It doesn’t matter that the guy got away with it for 18 years and he is now being called out on it. Law is the law.

On the other hand, what Hoboken should attempt to do is what NYC does. We offer sidewalks to vendors to sell their food. Why can’t Hoboken do the same? A person like Ali can lease a sidewalk from the city, to bring in a vendor cart and sell his food that way, instead of a large truck which blocks traffic, fire hydrants and sidewalks.

Then, the city gets revenue from leasing a sidewalk, much like NYC also does.

Member
juliehob
6 years 3 months ago

I ordered pasta from Roma’s and had to throw it out.It seems that the cooked the zitis for about 30 seconds then threw sauce over it. This also happened to a friend of mine.
The food from the truck is inexpensive and good.
Leave the guy alone.

Member
TheTacoTruck
6 years 3 months ago

First let me preface this comment with the fact that I will be operating a food vending truck in Hoboken in the very near future along with a brick and mortar location in Hoboken. First, Ali has been operating in Hoboken long before Rome Pizzeria opened their doors. Second, food vending trucks pass their reduced overhead savings on to the customer by offering food at a reduced cost compared to brick and mortar restaurants. Third, if Rome thinks that food vending trucks have an unfair competitive advantage then they should have considered operating a truck instead. Fourth, if Rome thinks that they are operating a competing business too close to theirs then wouldn’t Hoboken Pizza have a claim against Rome? Fifth, Los Angeles county went through all of this this past year, the same arguments, the same complaints and the trucks prevailed! Lastly, food vending trucks may have some advantages but they also have disadvantages, they don’t offer seating, most need to operate a commissary in order to prepare their foods, receive product and store cold items. I support Ali 100% and hope that our city government considers both sides of the argument.

Member
YAYitsAndrew
6 years 3 months ago

If Ali were forced to move, what would Rome Pizza do next? Scare away the ice cream truck that’s perpetually parked over by Pier A on the weekends?

We need to teach Rome Pizza that you can’t drive off your competition – even if they’re sitting on top of four wheels.

And now I have one less pizza place I need to try.