NYC’s ‘Hot Dog King’ and Disabled Vietnam Vet Says City Shut Down His Cart Again!

In a distressing turn of events for one of New York City’s most beloved street vendors, Dan Rossi, affectionately known as the “Hot Dog King,” has once again been forced to shut down his hot dog cart. Rossi, a 73-year-old disabled Vietnam War veteran, has been a fixture on Manhattan streets for nearly four decades, delighting locals and tourists alike with his sidewalk cart, typically stationed outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The latest closure came on May 23, when a city Department of Health (DOH) inspector cited Rossi for operating without the necessary permit. According to the inspector, Rossi lacked the NYC Specialized Disabled Veteran Vendor permit required to sell food at that specific location. Rossi, however, vehemently disputes this accusation, claiming that he has held the required permit for decades and that the inspector unjustly removed the permit decal from his cart before issuing the citation.

“It’s a game that they play with me all the time,” Rossi told reporters, detailing what he describes as a longstanding pattern of harassment by city officials. He alleges that the DOH has used similar tactics to shut him down at least five times before, with the most recent prior incident occurring last year. Rossi expressed particular frustration over the timing of this latest closure, which came just before the Memorial Day weekend, a period he considers significant for honoring veterans.

Rossi’s grievances highlight a broader issue facing veteran vendors in New York City. The Disabled Veteran Vendor permit, which he possesses, grants veterans injured in the line of duty the unique privilege to sell food almost anywhere in the city. This permit, established under a historic law originally drafted to benefit veterans of the Civil War, is increasingly rare. Rossi believes his permit, issued in 1983, is one of the oldest in the city, and he estimates that only about “five or six” veterans still hold such permits.

NYC’s ‘Hot Dog King’ and Disabled Vietnam Vet Says City Shut Down His Cart Again!

The “Hot Dog King” has not only gained his moniker through the quality of his food but also through his perseverance and dedication. Rossi is well-known for his years-long strategy of sleeping in his van to secure his coveted spot outside the Met. He argues that his extensive knowledge of the vending laws has made him a target for city officials who, he believes, are attempting to drive veteran vendors like him out of business to tighten regulatory control over the street vending market.

Despite the repeated setbacks, Rossi remains resolute. He anticipates that his cart will be closed for about two weeks while he navigates the bureaucratic process to prove once again that he is properly permitted. “It’s gonna be the same as always. I’m gonna go down there on Monday to Health Department. They’re gonna play all kinds of games with me for a few days,” Rossi explained. He expects that once he presents his case in court, the judge will dismiss the charges, as has happened in the past.

Rossi’s situation has drawn considerable public support. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help him cover expenses during this latest period of enforced inactivity. Supporters see Rossi not just as a vendor, but as a symbol of resilience and the entrepreneurial spirit of New York City.

The DOH has not responded to requests for comment on Rossi’s allegations of harassment but maintains that the closure was due to his lack of the required permit. “The Health Department closed this food cart because it was operating in front of the Met Museum, and the vendor did not have a NYC Specialized Disabled Veteran Vendor permit or an agreement with the Parks Department,” a DOH representative said in a statement.

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Rossi’s ongoing battle with city officials underscores the challenges faced by small vendors in New York City, particularly those who are veterans. As he prepares to fight yet another bureaucratic battle, Rossi remains determined to continue his lifelong trade of bringing joy and nourishment to the streets of Manhattan.

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