Issue: Pop-Up Food Courts


Someone must be liable for those who get sick and dies, or if someone accidently starts a fire and burns the place down.

That’s what Adam Sudman, founder of pop-up food court, My Lucky Tummy, assesses and considers before running his event.

“Paying for workers’ compensation is very high, because there are many risks. People can get hurt,” Sudman said.

Sudman has run four My Lucky Tummy events, a pop-up food court that started popping in Syracuse in the summer of 2013. It is a food event that pursues community engagement. He hires cooks who came as refugees to Syracuse to cook their ethnic dishes and give sample tastings to those who attend the events.

For each event, he hires from four to six cooks, depending on his budget and costs of government permits. Just like any events serving food to the public, pop-up food providers must get a variety of government permits.

Some other pop-up food events are like Savor Syracuse, an annual event where local vendors serve their food. Those events require each vendor to obtain a health permit, according to the

In Sudman’s case, he is his own business and his cooks are not vendors because he temporarily hires them. So he pays $36 for just one health permit in addition to paying $130 for a food permit.

The food permit hass guidelines that the workers must follow. Health inspectors assess the location of the event before it runs to make sure food is served to the public in a safely manner. One of the many guidelines is that workers must wear gloves when preparing food, according to Onondaga County regulations for temporary food permits. 

For My Lucky Tummy events, Somayyeh Alizadeh, a kitchen volunteer, helps the chefs cook. She volunteered for the fourth My Lucky Tummy food event that ran on April 26.

The latest My Lucky Tummy featured Cuban food and Alizadeh asked the chefs to wear gloves. They did. “Washing hand is good, but if you’re working to serve 400 people you have to wear gloves,” Alizadeh said. She puts in effort to makes sure that everyone washes his or her hands and wear gloves.

For Sudman, it is crucial that he pays for liability insurance for in case unexpected events like people getting sick or damages to facilities happen. Sudman pays $125 for liability insurance that covers $1 million in liability coverage. Paying for workers compensation is the most costly for Sudman. He pays $800 a year for it.

He reflected on a time when one of his hired cooks accidently caused a fire. The fire caused $400 worth of damages, which he had to pay for, he said. “In kitchens you got sharp things,” Sudman said. “You got fire and you got ways to get hurt.”
(Vekonda Luangaphay is a graduate student in magazine, newspaper, and online journalism.)




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