Brawl in San Jose Over Food Trucks
SAN JOSE, CA - While families bit into churros and navigated the winter carnival that is downtown San Jose during the holidays, the season of giving became a little less magnanimous around Christmas in the Park. And no, we’re not talking about the shooting.
Ryan Sebastian, the entrepreneur behind Moveable Feast, approached organizers months ago about providing some food options for the December event. They—well, specifically Christmas in the Park director Jason Minsky—apparently blew him off. Sebastian, however, was determined to expand the menu for downtown’s holiday guests.
He got permits from the city, posted up the Facebook invites for a one-night “Christmas Truck Lane,” as he called it, on S. Market Street, right across from the holiday fair. Minsky got wind of the plan and, leveraging his clout as head of a popular downtown event, summoned the San Jose PD to disband the food truck gathering. “This is a truly despicable move on your part,” Minsky fired off in an email to Sebastian a few days before Christmas, along with a declaration that he’ll never work with him because of the incident. Like, ever. So there.
Police arrived on scene and weren’t immediately able to dispatch Sebastian’s fleet. “They had to really dig through the books to find a violation,” he recalls. After a fair bit of on-site investigation, they found a citable technicality: the trucks lacked a peddler’s permit. Not Sebastian’s fault—the city should’ve told him—but still grounds for dismissal.
The city’s understaffed and controversy-shy police generally don’t divert crime-fighting resources to epicurian turf squabbles. They’ve declined to enforce food codes at St. James Park, where neighbors have petitioned Chief Larry Esquivel to crack down on illegal feedings of the homeless by do-gooders.
Minsky declined to talk about the skirmish. For Sebastian, the bigger issue is that Christmas in the Park needs to up its culinary game. Keep the cocoa and churros, he says, but ditch the nondescript fair food. “Carnie cuisine is not befitting of a world-class city such as San Jose,” Sebastian advised Minsky.
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