HUNTS POINT, The Bronx— MoGridders BBQ food truck in the Bronx serves some of the best BBQ in New York City.
It was featured twice on the Food Network. But recently, the trucks owner/operator Ozzy Shekhman, contacted PIX11 Investigates for help.
Ozzy is a disabled veteran, USMC retired. Last year, Ozzy qualified for a special mobile food permit for disabled vets. The NYC Department of Health told him he could get a permit for a food truck or a food cart. Ozzy chose to get a food truck permit. The Health Department put the special disabled vet sticker on the truck. Ozzy says it cost him almost $140,000 to buy and outfit the truck. But business took off immediately and the food developed a following beyond the Bronx.
However, in May, his truck was cited by the Health Department for some plumbing violations.
When Ozzy brought it back the next day to prove the repairs were made, he says the department dropped a bombshell on him. They told him he should never have been given a disabled veteran’s permit for his truck in the first place.
Ozzy says “They told me this permit is strictly for food carts only, not food trucks. When I asked why they have given me the permit for the truck, even put it on the truck, they said ‘it was a mistake’. He says they suggested he switch his permit from his truck to a food cart, which are much smaller than food trucks. Ozzy told them he had put all his money into the truck, which cost four times as much as a cart.
Although it was the Health Department’s mistake, they refused to renew the permit for the truck, in effect putting Ozzy out of business. He contacted PIX11 and we asked for an explanation from the Health Department, which we never got. However, just a few days ago, a department spokesman called Ozzy to say they had decided to give him the permit back for his truck, but only until October.
City Councilman Paul Vallone, a member of the Veterans Committee , took up Ozzy’s cause, urging the Health Department to give the disabled vet more than a four month extension.
“We’re saying let him keep that permit. The mistake was made," said Vallone. "Or let him keep that permit for at least the amount of time he needs to recoup his investment. He should not be the victim. Period.”
The Health Department is now reconsidering Ozzy’s case. He say’s he’ll be back serving BBQ from the MoGridder’s truck in the Bronx starting next week. And he’ll be there as long as he’s allowed to.