Welcome: NYC Food Truck & Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Associations

Jonathan Amato

NYCFoodtruckAssocOne of the great things about being part of the growing mobile food vendor community is meeting cool, smart and creative street food, food truck, and food cart advocates from all over the U.S. and world. On Saturday, September 14, 2013 visitors who work in the mobile food industry from all over North America will be in Portland for the first annual Roam Mobile Food Conference.

Food Carts Portland is extra excited to welcome representatives from the New York City Food Truck Association & the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association as well as other mobile food associations from around the nation to our fair “City of Roses Food Carts”. These associations have emerged to become community leaders and world renowned experts in championing fair mobile vending laws, supporting small locally owned mobile food businesses, putting on  community events, and bringing great street food to the people of NYC and the Los Angeles area. Both associations will be at Roam speaking on ways to better organize, advocate for, and support mobile food vendors. How cool is that?

Yes, we all know Portland has one of the best street food scenes in the U.S. But, NYC and Southern California are pioneers. After all, vendors serving Shawarma and Falafel sandwiches in NYC, as well as traditional Mexican Taco Trucks found roaming all over Southern California have been decades ahead of the gourmet trucks and carts in our current era. Yet, mobile vendors outside of Portland face sometimes insurmountable obstacles in unfair laws, excessive permitting fees, and other challenges. In New York City, some mobile vendors must pay upwards of $300,000 per year for even a simple hot dog stand!

These mobile vendor associations are a way to help give mobile food vendors, many of whom are just small, local businesses, and immigrants who are not fluent in English a way to be heard and not taken advantage of. images

These associations also help their communities in other important ways. Take Hurricane Sandy that devastated parts of New York and New Jersey last year. The NYC Food Truck Association was able to quickly organize and deploy food trucks to hard hit areas, and served FREE, hot, safe, nutritious meals to emergency responders and residents alike when restaurants, grocery stores, and homes were without power and clean water. By partnering with larger businesses, local governments and non-profits, the NYC Food Truck Association was able to quickly raise money to provide all the food to communities in need for free. 

We salute mobile food vending associations  and their members for their ongoing work to promote and support street food in cities around the U.S. Come meet them at Roam on September 14th, and you bet we are ready, sporks in hand, to show them Portland’s intensely wonderful food carts. We’ve also told them, with over 600+ food carts and trucks in Portland, they had better come hungry and better wear elastic waist pants.


Need Help With Vending Laws in Your City? The Institute for Justice

Jonathan Amato

image from the Institute for Justice. www.IJ.org


The Institute for Justice National Street Vending Initiative (IJ)  is  a Washington, D.C. based non-profit that works to create best practice street vending laws in different cities across the U.S. The IJ will be in Portland on Saturday, September 14, 2013 for the Roam Mobile Food Conference, presenting to, and meeting one-on-one with vendors, government policy makers and street food advocates. If you are interested in meeting with Institute for Justice, you can sign up for Roam at www.roamconference.com.

From the IJ’s website:

Through its National Street Vending Initiative, the Institute for Justice works to defeat anti-competitive restrictions that violate the constitutional rights of street vendors to earn an honest living.  This initiative combines litigating against these restrictions in state and federal courts, helping vendors organize in order to fight these restrictions through activism, and educating the public about the importance—both economically and socially—of street vendors.

Are you a mobile food vendor, policy maker, non-profit, or street food advocate struggling with vending laws in your city? From restrictive zoning and other laws that push food trucks and carts out, out of date ordinances that prevent small street food businesses from being able to make a living, excessive and impossible to navigate permitting processes and fees… in some American cities street food is all but illegal.

We know this is a huge topical regionally and nationally here at Food Carts Portland. Every week we receive inquiries from all over the U.S. as well as from cities closer to home: “help, my city doesn’t allow mobile vending”, or “My city government wants to change the laws to get rid of food trucks and carts, what can I do?”

On the positive side, many city planners, government officials and other policy makers often contact us as well, recognizing the benefits of street vending to cities citing supporting the growth of more small- locally owned business owners, putting positive uses on vacant or blighted land, creating active positive uses in urban areas, and often serving disadvantaged populations and neighborhoods. Yet what some best practices in mobile vending policies? What are fair, streamlined, and legal laws and permitting processes cities can adopt to support mobile vending, while at the same time balancing community health, safety, and livability issues?

While Portland, Oregon is known for having a very supportive government regarding food carts and trucks, and is considered a model city in street food vending, other cities aren’t so lucky. The Institute for Justice is a strong and effective advocate for better mobile vending laws, provides legal and technical support, as well as several educational resources. Recent successes by the IJ for better vending laws include New Orleans, LA; Washington, DC; and Atlanta, GA. The IJ continues to assist many more in progress including, but not limited to, Chicago, IL; Akron, OH; Las Vegas, NV; and Knoxville, TN.

image from www.ij.org

image from www.ij.org

In addition to the the Institute for Justice, Roam Mobile Food Conference on September 14, 2013 in Portland, OR is also hosting at least eight different city governments, several mobile food vendor associations from around the country, and best practice policy leaders such as Multnomah County Department of Environment Health for presentations, meetings, and other education and networking opportunities.

Here at Food Carts Portland we know the food in street food is the main attraction to writing and reading about mobile food. However, we also know mobile vending continues to resonate locally and nationally because it is about good economic development, helps create more small-locally owned businesses, contributes to a healthy urban and cultural landscape, and is an incredible community benefit overall. Can you imagine what Portland would be like without food carts and trucks? We believe other cities deserve the chance to have strong, fair and progressive mobile vending laws. If this topic is of interest, check out more at www.roamconference.com or for specific inquiries, please contact info@roamconference.com. Roam will be held at the Double Tree Hilton, Lloyd District in Portland, Oregon on September 14, 2013. The cost for the conference is only $235, and a special one-day start-up boot camp for aspiring mobile food vendors is only $175.

The Institute for Justice: Fight for Your Right to Street Food!


Roam Mobile Food Conference in Portland

Jonathan Amato




We’ve been blogging about it a bit this summer… Food Carts Portland is pleased to be one of the entities involved with Roam, the first ever North American-wide conference for those who are in, want to be in, or serve the growing mobile food industry. Yes, we are talking trucks, carts, wagons, bikes, or heck even a boat or a plane that serves food is fine with Roam. Roam will be held at the Double Tree Hilton Portland in the Lloyd Center District on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

“So I want to open up a food truck. What do I need to know?” If you or someone you know wants to open their own mobile food business, Roam offers a one day Start-up Boot Camp for only $175. The Start-up Boot Camp features industry expert presenters,  successful mobile vendors, Q&A opportunities, hands on workshops, resources such as suppliers and professional services, and plenty of networking.  It’s everything you need to know to open a mobile food business. A great investment that can save new businesses a lot of mistakes, lost time and money.

“I want to grow my business, maybe add a 2nd truck or open a bricks and mortar restaurant. What do I need to do?” For those already in the mobile food industry, Roam’s Owner’s Summit  is a full day on Saturday at only $235, and is geared towards helping mobile vendors thrive. Menu development, costing and profit, DIY marketing and PR, staffing, insurance, equipment, growing to multiple locations or bricks and mortar, as well as innovations in technology and sustainability are just a few of the topics.

“What kind of laws does my city need to allow mobile vending while at the same time addressing business, political and neighborhood concerns?” Policy makers, non-profits, community advocates will also have the opportunity to address best practices in urban planning and economic development. City policy makers from all over the U.S. will be in attendance to discuss creating fair, streamlined and efficient vending laws. N0n-profits and advocates will have the chance to hear and talk with mobile vending association and advocacy groups. The Institute for Justice from Washington, DC, a non-profit that works with cities to create open and fair laws will be on hand for presentations and special one-on-one meetings. If you are struggling with mobile vending laws and issues in your city, this feature is for you!

“It’s a food conference, will it be fun?” Roam will also have a special food cart lunch on-site at the conference. In the evening we will be taking a party bus to one of the Portland’s great food cart pods for an evening of food, fun, and imbibing. For those available on Friday the 13th, Roam can also arrange special food cart and other city tours.

Registrations for Roam are still open. You can register for Roam by going to www.roamconference.com. For media and other inquiries, please contact info@roamconference.com. You can connect with Roam on Twitter: @RoamCON or Facebook: Roam Mobile Conference

See you at Roam, September 14th!



What: Roam Mobile Food Conference

When: Saturday September 14, 2013. 7:00 am to 5:00 pm with Friday City Tours, and Sat Evening Special Event.

Where: Double Tree Hilton at Lloyd Center, Portland, Oregon.

Cost: $175 (Bootcamp) or $235 (Full Conference)

Register Here: 

For More Information: www.roamconference.com or info@roamconference.com

Event Announcement: Endless Summer BBQ!

Jonathan Amato

Ah, it’s been a blissful August in Portland so far. Warm, sunny  days leading into cooler, crisp nights. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the peak of Portland’s summer than a Saturday BBQ next to the Willamette River.



Our friends over at Portland Monthly are throwing their first ever Endless Summer BBQ  this coming Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the historic Oaks Park Amusement Park. The BBQ is for a great cause too – supporting Willamette Riverkeeper, a non-profit that works to clean, restore and protect the majestic Willamette River.

Endless Summer BBQ will bring together six top local chefs to fire up the coals for a great cause, with plenty of fun and entertainment.

From Portland Monthly:

Echoing late-summer backyard barbecues and celebratory sunsets after 8 p.m., the inaugural event will feature BBQ prepared by talented teams from Alberta Street Pub, Biwa, Country Cat, Lardo, Pine Shed Ribs, and Urban Farmer. The savory treats will be balanced by summery sweetness as Portland bakeries—including Whiffies Fried Pies, Pacific Pie Co, and more—compete in a seasonal cobbler contest.

Local band Magic Mouth with fill the riverfront picnic with ambient summer sounds, while horse shoes, bocce, and badminton pass the time between rides and carnival games at Oaks Park.

Endless Summer BBQ attendees are welcome to purchase an unlimited ride wristband for Oaks Amusement Park and enjoy reentry into the event. BBQ

Ticket: $20 (includes BBQ and cobbler sampling)BBQ & Unlimited Rides: $33 (includes BBQ and cobbler sampling, plus an unlimited ride bracelet)

All profits from the event will benefit Willamette Riverkeeper, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Willamette River since 1966.

Endless Summer BBQ is generously supported by Coca-Cola, Car2Go, and Blue Moon Brewing.


Event Details:

Date: Saturday, August 24, 2013

Time: 4 p.m.–8 p.m.

Location: Oaks Amusement Park

Tickets on sale at portlandmonthlymag.com/endless-summer-bbq

ABOUT OAKS PARK: Conceived as an attraction to accompany the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, the park is the longest operating park in the U.S. and is now held by the Oaks Park Association, a not-for-profit corporation.

Volunteers Needed for Eat Mobile 2013!

Jonathan Amato



Volunteer for Eat Mobile 2013 at OMSI!

Do you love food carts? Can’t get enough of all the amazing gourmet-on-the-go (not to mention on the cheap!) options in this fair city? Then come be a part of *THE* celebration of Portland food cart culture by volunteering for Eat Mobile on Saturday, April 27th, 2013 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry!

Part food festival, part cart competition, Eat Mobile showcases the mouth-watering cuisine from 50 of Willamette Week’s favorite food carts. The event highlights the food, music, and people that make Portland’s food scene so special, while vendors compete for the coveted Carty Award. In addition, Whole Foods Market and OMSI will stage demonstrations to provide attendees with an understanding of the science behind the food.

Volunteers are needed to help run all aspects of the event, from will call and wrist banding guests, to taking surveys, keeping the event clean and green, and even parking bikes! Volunteers have their choice of one of two shift times: 3:30pm to 7:30pm or 7:00pm to 10:00pm. All volunteers will receive an Eat Mobile staff wristband that allows you to sample all the delicious food being offered either before or after your shift. In addition, our Compost Genius volunteers (those volunteers who help guest make composting and recycling choices and those who keep the tables clear) will also receive a pass to come back and enjoy OMSI on a day of their choosing!

To sign up for a shift or request more information, please email Casey Szot at cszot@omsi.edu or call 503-797-4569