Receiving the news in a letter renewing their leases, vendors of the 12th Street Outdoor Vending Pad, the strip of food stands in front of Anderson Hall, were surprised by a new condition that now requires them to maintain the outdoor dining area.
Vendors said that their responsibility to maintain this dining area is a new part of their contract.
“It used to be that the university was responsible for maintenance. Now, we have to pay for it,” said Ali Ibrahim, owner of Ali’s Middle Eastern.
“I don’t think it’s fair that we have to pay now. Temple already pays the ground crew, and they never kept it very clean anyway,” Ibrahim said.
Linda Frazer, the university’s director of Business Services, said that the contract is standard.
“This is typical landlord-tenant relations. Most tenants are responsible for cleaning up their areas. This is standard operating procedure,” Frazer said.
“Fame,” owner of Fame’s Famous Pizza, said that the clean-up is a new expense his business has never been responsible for in the past.
“We’re responsible for clean-up and services to the front area in a bill every three months in addition to our rent,” Fame said.
“We haven’t had to pay that for the past 20 years, as long as I’ve been here.”
Fame also said that a maintenance fee is not a responsibility that surrounding street vendors and food trucks have to bear.
“There are other vending areas that don’t have to pay clean up fees for their areas. Other lunch trucks and street vendors even come here and use these same facilities,” Fame said.
Sophomore journalism major James Brotherton agreed that the dining area is not restricted to the seven adjacent vendors.
“There’s a lot of people who eat in this area from a lot of different places. It’s not just these vendors exclusively using this area,” Brotherton said.
Vendors aren’t pleased with their new responsibilities, particularly the way the contract changes were negotiated. “There was nothing we could do. Their phrase was ‘take it or leave it,’ Ibrahim said.
“Our contract negotiations were supposed to happen over the summer, but they didn’t happen until winter break,” Fame said.
According to Ibrahim, the letter came after a meeting with the university’s Business Services office to renew the lease. Ibrahim said that the additional cost for maintenance makes it even tougher to turn a profit.
“We have to work even more hours to make up for the extra rent,” Ibrahim said.
Frazer said that several factors are considered with the vendors’ pricing.
“I’m sure that a lot of things go into their pricing. Surely rent is one of them, but it also includes paying for the food and paying employees, among other things,” Frazer said.
Both Fame and Ibrahim acknowledged the possibility of raising prices as an alternative to working additional hours.
“We did not raise prices yet. We need to have a meeting with the other vendors before we raise them,” Ibrahim said.
“The prices definitely have to go up. We’ve just decided to wait to raise prices, hopefully [the university] will change their minds,” Fame said.
Tiffany Yoon, a sophomore pre-med and journalism major, offered this solution to the maintenance issue: “If the tuition was raised slightly for everyone to maintain the quality of the area, it wouldn’t be such a load for the vendors and wouldn’t affect anyone too much,” Yoon said.
Jithin George, a junior finance major, didn’t concur, but said he is not concerned that the vendors’ may increase their prices. Students will still bring their business to the vendors, he said.
“I don’t think it will affect students too much. “For the first few weeks it might be a little slower, but I don’t think it will turn out to be a big issue,” George said.
But for Fame, his main concern was not with an increase in rent, but the maintenance responsibilities.
“Everything goes up. That’s the nature of business. But, asking us to pay for maintenance is going overboard,” he said.
Alex Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.