I think we can all agree that New York Dosas’ menu qualifies as “healthy food” (as opposed to, say, crepes). The popular award-winning vegan cart along the southern end of the park offers South Indian food items comprised primarily of vegetables, lentils, rice, and herbs. Plus bottled water at $1! Much less than the “hot dog” food cart vendor
s around the fountain. (Good to remember on a hot day. Oh, and, as commenter Stacy noted, the park water fountains work just fine!)
Originally hailing from Sri Lanka, Thiru Kumar, who runs the cart, told Gothamist that people call him “Dosa Man” (or Thiru). He has now been serving park goers at Washington Square Park for close to 15 years.
From Gothamist: Video: Meet the Legendary Dosa Man of Washington Square Park
Kumar sidestepped the usual bureaucratic hurdles of getting a street cart in NYC by accepting a then-undesirable location on the south side of Washington Square Park. He opened for business in December of 2001, when the park was known as a hotbed of criminal activity and the ruins of the Twin Towers still smoldered nearby. Even for a man who once faced down snakes while exploring remote caves in Sri Lanka, having to conduct business amidst “drug dealers, and even some hustlers” could get “really scary” at times.
As did some Gothamist commenters (below), I looked twice at the framing of the park here. Yes, drug dealers were likely present in 2001 – curiously, cameras installed under Mayor Giuliani in 1998 did not seem to make an impact. And I’m sure Kumar is not making up the “mafia” presence (although I never heard that).
But the park was not “known as a hotbed of criminal activity”; that was a mischaracterization by the writer. (Seems to happen a bit too often, doesn’t it?*)
Nice video interview, tho’. Glad to have New York Dosa Man in the park.
(*Remember when the New York Times rewrote the park history in this 2014 story?)
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Video by Jessica Leibowitz