Taco Hell

Mexican food vendors circle the wagons as community activists fume over neighborhood blight

But at meeting after meeting over the past year, he has been a leading spokesman for the vendors, many of whom don't speak much English.

Each time, his message has been that the vendors want this ordinance so they can continue to work and support their families.

He usually opens his own business around 7 at night. He runs until 2 a.m. on weeknights, 4 a.m. on the weekends. He goes that late because it's good business. The dancers come out hungry and like to linger with their dates in the parking lot around his truck.

Vicki Chriswell (below) says backyard mobile food vending operations like this one have added to blight in her west Phoenix neighborhood.
Vicki Chriswell (below) says backyard mobile food vending operations like this one have added to blight in her west Phoenix neighborhood.
Activists say backyard mobile food vending operations like this one have added to blight in her west Phoenix neighborhood.
Paolo Vescia
Activists say backyard mobile food vending operations like this one have added to blight in her west Phoenix neighborhood.

He spends an hour or two cleaning the parking lot and checking supplies after closing. He works about 20 hours a day on weekends, and sometimes, he says, he doesn't sleep at all.

The proposed ordinance would make him close at 2 every morning, cutting about 25 percent of his business. It would also require him to be fingerprinted, something that no other restaurant worker has to do.

He says he agreed to these and other conditions because he wanted people to see that the vendors were willing to meet the neighborhoods halfway.

Dominguez, like Hernan Rivera and other vendors, sees the vending business as "the little baby steps trying to learn how to walk. In 10 years, we might own a chain of restaurants."

Given the sharp way he runs his current truck, it isn't likely the neighbors would have much cause to complain about him or shut him down. He consistently gets good health ratings from the county.

Like Rivera and other vendors involved in the past year's negotiations, he sees the ordinance as a step toward improving the business on which they're building their dreams.

"Every time I go to these village meetings, I am humiliated," says Dominguez. "My self-esteem and pride are on the ground because of the negative stuff they say about us. We know there are some bad apples out there. But this ordinance will help take out those bad apples.

"These people say we're all criminals," he adds, shaking his head. "But I am not one. We work hard. This whole thing is about getting these people to see that we will do whatever it takes to comply. So maybe when they see one of us working, they'll respect us."

Williams believes that if the city council rejects the proposed ordinances and the Board of Adjustment upholds the zoning interpretation next week, the vendors would have every right to pursue a court appeal.

But court isn't where the vendors want to spend their time, says Reza. "They're very practical. They're tired of meetings, tired of losing money every time they have to stop and come to the city. They've negotiated everything except their right to operate. They just want to be left alone."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Phoenix Concert Tickets
Loading...