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New York, the most vertical of cities, has become a tad blasé about its skyscrapers, high-rise malls and multistory restaurant collections. At last, though, it has a fresh take on the perpendicular: the vertical food-truck court.
Every weekday in recent months, fancy-food trucks have been rumbling into the gigantic freight elevator of the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street in West Chelsea. After being hoisted aloft, they roll out into the concrete truck bays on the upper floors of the 81-year-old, 19-story commercial building. There, they post menus and proceed to sell inventive meals to office workers and their guests.
“This area is up and coming, but retail food options here are in their infancy,” said William S. Elder, an executive vice president at the firm. “We invited the food trucks in to increase diversity, and it’s changed the dynamic of the building.” Although lone food trucks have occasionally ascended freight elevators in Manhattan buildings to cater special events, Mr. Weber said the Starrett-Lehigh Building was the only high-rise in New York where multiple trucks converged five days a week.
Years ago, she added, “People didn’t want to eat at roach coaches” — traditional lunch trucks, of dubious cleanliness. “But now there is a whole new generation of trucks with high-end food, so we brought in the food-truck association,” she said. “This is a building full of Brooklyn hipsters. Now they have a place to eat.”