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Neighborhood coffee vendor to be kicked out after 16 years over DOT violation

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Ahmed Khalifa has been the coffee cart guy on Adams Street in Brooklyn Heights for 16 years.

“He sees me coming across the street, he has my stuff ready for me,” said Donna Thomas, of the Bronx.

Khalifa used to set up on the corner, but for the last 2 and a half years he and his cart have bounced around the block as the city put in a new plaza with tables and benches.
And recently he was forced to move a few more feet when the city installed two new bike racks.
The problem is, the Department of Transportation says the newest spot violates city codes.
Khalifa says inspectors threatened to fine him and tow his cart if he doesn’t find a new place to set up shop.

“The service is great, the food is good, and he’s very courteous,” says Brooklyn resident Oliver Haynes.
“After 16 years in the same spot and I know all the customers around here and all the people they know me, and after all these years just throw it out, just go find somewhere else,” said food vendor Ahmed Khalifa.

Right now the Department of Transportation requires these vendors to be 20 feet away from the entrance to a building.  Khalifa’s cart sat just 18 feet away from the building, just two feet closer than the DOT currently allows.  But Khalifa says the only reason he’s even this close to the building is because he’s moved several times in the past to help out the DOT and now he doesn’t think he should be forced to move again.”

“All that I ask them, if I can, just waive me for the one foot, 20 feet, 19 feet, it’s not a big difference.”

And most people seem to agree.  Not only does Khalifa have the support of his loyal customers, but Borough President Marty Markowitz is also fighting for the food cart vendor.
They say because he’s been there so long, the DOT should make an exception and grant Khalifa a waiver.

“They’ve been here before all of these benches and the new development has been here, so he needs a break.”

Otherwise Khalifa says his coffee-selling career could end on a bitter note.

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