eatery, food cart own­ers sour on shar­ing side­walk

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Mike Sut­ter

A side­walk turf dis­pute is cre­at­ing a gulf be­tween two East Sixth Street food busi­nesses that op­er­ate within feet of each other.

The fine-din­ing res­tau­rant Park­side is op­pos­ing the re­newal of a per­mit al­low­ing the Best Wurst food cart to op­er­ate on the side­walk out­side Park­side.

Jon No­tarthomas has owned Best Wurst since the mid-’90s. “We had a great re­la­tion­ship with Dan McClusky’s,” he said of the steak­house that pre­ceded Park­side, which opened in 2008. “We did know that (Park­side) didn’t want us there from the get-go. But I fig­ured over time, they’d see that we’re good neigh­bors,” he said.

No­tarthomas’ per­mit, which ex­pired in mid-June, is be­ing ex­tended un­til the city in­ves­ti­gates Park­side’s com­plaints, said Ja­son Red­fern, man­ager of the city di­vi­sion that

Con­tin­ued from B1 gov­erns the us­age of rights of way. He didn’t have an es­ti­mate for when that process would be com­pleted.

Those com­plaints are enu­mer­ated in letters to the city by Park­side chef-owner Shawn Cirkiel and his par­ents, Martin and Pamela Cirkiel, who own the build­ing at 301 E. Sixth St.

Their com­plaints in­clude con­tentions that the cart vi­o­lates space re­stric­tions, sells sim­i­lar prod­ucts, at­tracts crowds that leave de­bris and block the side­walk, and that the cart will con­flict with Park­side’s bal­cony, for which con­struc­tion is sched­uled to be­gin later this month. No­tarthomas dis­agrees with those con­tentions.

Shawn Cirkiel said the dis­pute is about prop­erty rights. “Am I out to close Jon’s busi­ness? No. Do I want Jon to move? Yes,” he said.

Sim­ply mov­ing the cart isn’t a com­fort­able op­tion for No­tarthomas. “Peo­ple say, ‘Why don’t you just go work in one of the trailer-park eater­ies, or why don’t you go to South Congress?’” he said. “I feel like our brand is Sixth Street.”

For now, the cart will re­main out­side Park­side, but dur­ing bal­cony con­struc­tion, it will have to move. No­tarthomas said he ar­ranged with the city and the night­club Vice across the street to op­er­ate out­side the club last week, when con­struc­tion was orig­i­nally planned.

Noise from the club made it dif­fi­cult to take or­ders, he said, call­ing the drop in busi­ness “dis­as­trous.”

The Best Wurst op­er­ates a sec­ond cart at East Sixth and Red River streets, but No­tar- thomas said 85 to 90 per­cent of his busi­ness comes from the cart out­side Park­side.

Cirkiel said he re­spects his neigh­bor’s busi­ness, but “if your neigh­bor had a party ev­ery night, and ev­ery night they left trash at your front door and smeared mus­tard and sauer­kraut and ketchup on your door and win­dows, what would you do?” Park­side also has ap­plied for a side­walk cafe per­mit that would make the space in front un­avail­able for ven­dors.

More than 1,500 peo­ple have joined a “Save the Best Wurst” group on Face­book. Peo­ple post­ing on the site have called Cirkiel a bully and a snob. Cirkiel said e-mails have in­cluded boy­cott threats and per­sonal attacks.

“It’s like when peo­ple talk about how I can go back to New York,” he said. “It’s just funny. My fam­ily’s been in Austin since ’43,” he said.

Thao Nguyen Amer­i­cAn-StAteS­mAn

The own­ers of the Best Wurst cart and Park­side res­tau­rant are locked in a dis­pute over a per­mit to use the side­walk in front of the res­tau­rant at Sixth Street and San Jac­into Boule­vard.

Thao Nguyen

Best Wurst has been sell­ing food from a cart on the side­walk in front of the Park­side lo­ca­tion, which used to house Dan McClusky’s, since the 1990s. Park­side has ap­plied for a side­walk cafe per­mit for the same area.

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