Winter is coming and we reached out to our readers and some in the biz for advice on how best to deal with it. This first section is a guest post from Rick Humphrey of Curtis Trailers who has helped many carts get through winter in past years.
Many carts will attempt to survive winter, others are going to close and have at it again in spring. For those carts that are going for the winter run here are some tips: (These are recommendations only.)
Carts downtown and at other locations store potable water (per code) and others are on city water (hose) – both can survive a winter. For storage tanks their options are to drain their tank nightly or install a tank heater. For the carts on city water there are 2 options; running (trickling) water won’t freeze but you need to be able to keep your grey water tank from over filling. If that is not an option then heat tape on your fresh water hose will do. Remember to have the heat on in the cart and insulate your pipes.
When it comes to your grey water tank you also have options: If you don’t dump your tanks nightly then you may either install a tank heater or add salt or other minerals to the grey water. Salt changes the boiling and freezing points of water. You can find out more information online. There are many different sites.
Carts that are closing for the winter and returning in the spring have the greatest chance of having no water damage. By performing a procedure called “blowing out” which is by attaching a blow-out plug to their city water entry hooking up compressed air regulated at 45p.s.i. and simply push the water out the faucets. Then turn on your pump for 30 seconds leave your faucets open till spring and if equipped open your low point drains for your water lines. If you don’t have city water and your only using a potable system than ARTIC BAN non-toxic antifreeze or similar product can be used. Fill fresh water tank with 2-3 gallons (save 4 cups for the end). Turn on your water pump and pump antifreeze through all faucets, close them and take the 4 cups and distribute them evenly to the drains in your sinks and we will see you in the spring when you open.
We decided to reach out to cart owners and readers alike for some input on this topic – How do you survive winter?
- Partner with a delivery service to get your product into people’s hands and in the office towers.
- Tweak the menu to offer more winter items that may appeal to a cold customer – items like free hot tea while they wait
- Announce holiday hours in advance so travelers can plan visits accordingly
- Have a great space heater – the ovens and grills aren’t enough (this one from someone who has spent a few winters inside the cart)
- Use social media to let your fans and customers know you are open and serving
- Have a spouse or partner with a good income in case the customers don’t show
- Long underwear and a warm smile!
Lastly, a note about winter from Food Carts Portland
Winter is indeed a difficult time for many carts. The customers are just not as abundant as during the sunny spring-fall months. That said, the carts adjust accordingly and many of them will be there if you venture down. Weekends downtown will have slimmer pickings, so head to the east side and try something new. Lots like Rose City Food Park, Cartopia, Kruger Farms on N Lombard, Cartlandia on 82nd, Piedmont Station on NE Killingsworth, Picnic in Sellwood will all have covered tents with heating. Mississippi Marketplace has PROST! German pub as a place out of the cold and rain.
Food cart owners are usually a one person show, so give them a break. It’s winter and sometimes you go to bed feeling fine and wake up with a nasty cold. Sometimes, you arrive at the cart and the water tank is frozen solid no matter what precautions are taken. Sometimes, after working a few hours to prep for lunch, no one comes and they decide to close early. That’s cartlife.
Thanks everyone who contributed and helped out with this post. Now, pledge to go eat at a cart in the next week.
[Updated for 2016]
Here are some updates on Portland’s street food scene:
If you haven’t ventured beyond your favorite food cart pod, there are some new ones that have grown into their own this summer and solidified their spot into Portland’s pod map:
- Piedmont Station – NE 7th and Killingsworth – Opened in 2015, this lot now hosts 10+ food carts, covered seating and Le Tap, a beer cart with numerous craft options
- Killingsworth Station – NE Killingsworth and Maryland – the lot here was built in 2014, but never got traction until now. 6 vendors including Salvadoran, Vietnamese, Mexican and Hungarian
- Kenton Pod – NE Denver and Interstate – this pod, owned and managed by PDC is brand new with 3 vendors including old favorite Killa Dilla
- Grubbin at Ankeny Square – W Burnside and 9th – a challenged park is now a food cart pod. 2 food carts and a community space
- NE MLK and Beech – Newly finished, but no food carts as of yet
Some closures to note:
- Beech Pod on N Mississippi – Gabagool and Tiffin Asha have closed their carts to move into restaurants. MF Tasty moved to N Williams and Failing
- Central Eastside Food Cart Pod – closed for development
- Thick Deep Dish Pizza closed downtown and moved into a food truck. You can find ChicagoLand roaming the streets of Portland serving up Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza
The Portland Mercado, one of Portland’s best food cart lots with a purpose, suffered significant vandalism this week, shutting down 7 of the 10 food cart and causing approximately $25,000 in damage. The Mercado is a beacon of community development with brick and mortar spaces, a commissary kitchen and vendors selling everything from Peruvian to Cuban to Michoacan and more. A destination spot for many. If you are a fan, plan a visit this week to support the lot and the vendors. They will reopen.
On Wednesday, it was reported that a number of vendors at Carts on Foster were also vandalized. If you have any information about either of these incidents, please contact the Portland Police.
Thank you for your continue support of Portland’s street food vendors.
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Tues-Sat, 11-7; Sunday, Noon-6pm
The Story: Portland offers up some amazing treats from street food vendors around the neighborhoods. Every so often though, a true gem arrives with something new and refreshing. Pause Japanese Bistro may be this summer’s fresh gem, serving up light, refreshing Japanese bowls.
Pause Japanese Bistro’s menu is a variety of bowls from Chirashidon to Yakisoba to Yasaidon, all with fresh vegetables and leafy greens and your choice of tuna or tofu. So, what are these? The best way to describe it is a large bowl of love. A bed of white or brown rice topped with greens, chopped vegetables and tuna, either raw or seared. Their own signature sauces top the bowl – Wasabi Soy, Korean Chili, Spicy Mayo, Sweet Chili, Teryaki or Tamari. The Chirashidon bowl I chose – a mix of spinach and romaine, julienned carrots and red cabbage and topped with raw tuna with the Korean Chili sauce. A salad bowl with rice. Brilliant. Also, for $8, it is a huge and satisfying portion for anyone.
Pause is the work of Chef Hyeyeon who lived in Japan and learned how to craft these dishes from her grandmother. Now, Portland gets to enjoy her creations. Pause is located at Rose City Food Park, one of the city’s amazing pods with numerous vendors and a beer garden. Recently, they expanded to downtown with a cart at SW 10th and Washington. Next time you’re in for a treat, give Pause a try and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Facebook: Pause Japanese Bistro
First came the Food Network. Then a race across the country with trucks and even a glossy Hollywood movie featuring a food truck that never broke down. But in all of that, did anyone tell the full story about street food both in Portland and beyond? Not until now. The feature-length documentary, Food Truck: The Movie, will make its World Premiere in Madrid, Spain in July. You get to see it before the Spaniards on June 11.
Documentary filmmaker and Lewis and Clark College Professor Bryan Sebok will present a sneak preview of his film Food Truck: The Movie during a fundraiser event at Rose City Food Park at 5235 NE Sandy Blvd., on June 11. The event will run from 8-11 pm. Live music will begin at 8, followed by the screening at dusk. Q and A with the filmmakers will follow the screening.
Food Truck: The Movie is a deep dive into the global food truck phenomenon through the successes and challenges of the mobile food mecca that is Portland, Oregon. On city streets on every continent, aspiring chefs, entrepreneurs, and immigrants intermingle in the mobile food community. A two billion dollar industry thrives in North America. Yet the significance of street eats is broader. Food Truck: The Movie follows a filmmaker’s immersion as he traces the roots of the scene and its impacts on city life while attempting to eat at a different food truck everyday for a year.
The director, Bryan Sebok is the real deal. When I met up with him for an interview, he had eaten at 30+ vendors. A few months later, over 200. A trooper who has the chops to put together this documentary.
Come on down to Rose City Food Park on June 11 to see the film and enjoy some of the varied offerings at the food cart lot. They have beer and wine available also. See ya there.
Food Truck: The Movie Fundraiser
June 11, 8pm
Rose City Food Park, SE 52nd and Sandy
For more information about the event or if you’re interested in being a sponsor, contact Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: SE 28th Pl and Division at Tidbit
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, lunch and dinner
The Story: A few years ago, I distinctly remember trying my first wood fired pizza from a food cart. John Eads’ handbuilt Pyro Pizza at Cartopia began slinging these amazing pies from an oven glowing at 900 degrees. Revolutionary to this kid who grew up on Pizza Hut and other corporate ‘za. Paper Bag Pizza took over one of John’s carts at Tidbit this past year, keeping tastebuds from resting.
Paper Bag Pizza is the work of Tom Daly and Emily Goodman and their family, Tom’s been there the times I’ve visited and is always welcoming even if he is simultaneously stoking the fire, making a fresh pie or pulling one out. I bet when it is busier on the weekends, having an extra hand helps. Everything is made to order, no pizza is sitting there waiting to be warmed, that is the glory of the wood fired oven. It only takes a few minutes to make and then bake the pie. As with any pizza joint, you can create your own with a mix of sausages, veggies and cheeses or pick one of their creations. I myself feel the pizza maker is smarter than me with flavor combinations, so I opted for the #1 with sausage, roasted garlic, Calabrian chili, fresh mozzarella atop a tomato sauce. Boom! Each slice, divine. Thin, charred crust, Neapolitan style. Acidic tomato sauce that complements the sausage and cheese so well. Nothing over the top, balanced just right. Trust me, there were no leftovers.
Paper Bag Pizza is the real deal and offers a wide range of toppings for you to make something special. This past week they had fresh asparagus and basil. Open Wednesday to Sunday at Tidbit, head on down, enjoy a pie and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Location: SW 10th and Alder
Hours: Lunch, weekdays
The Story: A well made sandwich is my crutch. No matter where I am, I’m drawn to sandwiches in all forms. My g0-to is a tuna melt, yet every now and then, I treat myself to a good old fashioned sub. A new cart on SW 10th and Alder here in Portland has brought Italian subs to the eaters downtown. O-Bros’ Osteria is now open.
O-Bros’ Osteria opened in March in the corner cart right on 10th and Alder which has seen vendors over the years sell frozen yogurt, bagels and Asian cuisine. While some may think the cart or location is cursed, I think it needed the right vendor to wow us and O-Bros’ has done that. Having visited now three different times, I gotta say they offer up one of my favorite Italian style subs in town. The Classic Spicy, a sandwich I would put in my desert island package, starts with a toasted hoagie roll, mayo and mustard then layered with ham, salami, pepperoni and parm and topped with chopped lettuce, tomato, and onion. To finish off this masterpiece of Italian culinary genius, they throw in a handful of spicy chopped peppers. Each bite, an explosion of wondrous, gluttonous, delight. Layers of thinly sliced meats melded with the spicy pepper and a bit of mustard on each bite – delightful. I have returned for other sandwiches and each has a special place in my taste memory.
O-Bros’ Osteria is open daily for lunch and offers a broad menu of Italian sub sandwiches along with soups, salads and pasta. If you’re craving a solid old school sub, check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
Food Carts Portland is proud and excited to announce that Brett Burmeister, owner and editor of the website, is heading to Manila, Philippines along with one of Portland’s food carts to attend the World Street Food Congress from April 20- April 24, 2016.
Brett will represent Food Carts Portland. Brett will join Portland food cart owners Daniel Huerta and Isabel Sanchez-Huerta from local favorite Churros Locos to showcase Portland’s thriving street food scene, including providing handcrafted treats to over 100,000 attendees. Portland will be in good company, alongside 30 mobile food vendors from places as diverse as Europe, Asia, Central America and beyond.
If you’re a regular reader of Food Carts Portland, you know Brett has been writing about Portland’s street food scene since 2008. He will speak at the Congress as part of their World Street Food Dialogue April 20-21. Brett’s presentation on the Portland street food model highlights how the City of Portland and Multnomah County have supported mobile food vendors to create vibrant community spaces while at the same time supporting the growth of small, local food businesses.
The attending Portland food cart will be part of a 5-day street food jamboree in Bonifacio Global City in Manila with street food vendors from around the world. Churros Locos will showcase their specialty, the Churro Sundae while utilizing local ingredients. The World Street Food Congress organizer, KF Seetoh and his team have visited Portland in the past and know the city’s reputation.
About the World Street Food Congress:
The World Street Food Congress (WSFC) is the first of its kind to connect and open up fresh ideas and thought leadership in the massive, and growing street food culture and industry throughout the world. It also celebrates and showcases this well loved gastro-culture through a five-day celebration of street food. According to founder K.F. Seetoh, the goals of the WSFC are to “preserve, professionalize and create new possibilities for the world’s greatest culinary phenomena – comfort and street food culture.”
The World Street Food Congress takes place April 20-24 in Manila, Philippines. More details about the event can be found at www.wsfcongress.com.
We wish Portland’s Food Carts a Bon Voyage, and expect on-the-ground updates from Brett and Food Carts Portland and Daniel and Isabel from Churros Locos throughout the event.
Craft Beer and wine at Bite on Belmont
Facebook: Hindsight Beer Cart
Coffee, Tea, Espresso, Breakfast.