Ice cream wars

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A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee’s Turf – Andy Newman and Emily S. Rueb, The New York Times

Mister Softee drivers don’t go to midtown Manhattan for fear of literal, physical violence by drivers for rival New York Ice Cream.

It’s the latest chapter in decades of violence for the New York ice cream truck business.

Mister Softee says he has been muscled out of Midtown.

New York Ice Cream, staffed by drivers who used to cover Midtown Manhattan for Mister Softee, has had the area locked down for at least a year, Mister Softee said. The renegade is enforcing its dominance with threats and intimidation that sometimes get physical.

“If one of my drivers goes to Midtown, they’ll bring their trucks in and surround them — a bunch of guys,” said Peter Bouziotis, who runs the Softee depot in the Bronx, which covers Manhattan. “They’ll start banging on the windows.”

At the corner of 40th Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square, a New York Ice Cream man in the window of his purple-trimmed white truck was unapologetic.

“From 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that’s ours,” he said on a recent afternoon, moments after handing a chocolate cone to a delighted-looking little boy. The vendor would not allow his name to be published for fear of losing his job.

“You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown,” he continued. “If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long.”

Boxing in a Softee truck so the driver cannot do business. Getting up in his face. Grabbing his collar and delivering some unsolicited advice.

“Happens all the time,” the New York Ice Cream man said.

Also:

“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”

And this:

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