Vendy Plaza is opening for the 2016 season at East Harlem's historic open-air market place, featuring local street chefs and celebrating New York City's diverse food culture. In addition to supporting new food entrepreneurs, Vendy Plaza is part of an effort to breathe life back into the market space at 116th Street and Park Avenue, La Marqueta, a cultural and commercial center in East Harlem for nearly 100 years.
Vendy Plaza is organized by the Street Vendor Project (streetvendor.org), the same group behind the Vendy Awards, which have determined New York City's top street chef for over 10 years, and have become one of the most beloved and widely-anticipated food events in New York and across the country.
There are as many as 20,000 street vendors in New York City -- hot dog vendors, flower vendors, t-shirt vendors, street artists, fancy food trucks, and many others. These entrepreneurs are mostly immigrants and people of color and many are US military veterans. In recent years, vendors have been denied access to street vending licenses from the city, resulting in a black market for licenses in addition to many other hurdles they must face in order to make ends meet.
The Street Vendor Project provides legal representation, loans, training and support to thousands of vendors in New York City and is part of the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit that provides legal representation and advocacy to various marginalized groups of New Yorkers.