Don’t take away our choice

The Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation recently awarded the four food concession locations on the Park Blocks to one vendor, Basha’s Mediterranean Grill. The contract will take effect this spring and last five years.

Basha’s provides good hummus and falafel to the students who line up outside their cart everyday. But Honkin’ Huge Burritos, the Mexican/Oriental food cart and the Healthy Asian Grill also provide great culinary delights for hungry college kids.

Portland State already has one food monopoly – Aramark. Do we really want only one vendor where before there had been so much choice? Basha’s does assure the eating public that it will continue to offer similar fare to the carts currently in business, but according to Basha’s recipes.

Many students opt to eat at the carts because they offer something different than Aramark’s fare, at a reasonable price and in a convenient location. And the carts have faithfully served the students well.

The Healthy Asian Grill and the Mexican/Oriental food cart have near-legendary status, with the Healthy Asian Grill occupying the same corner for 14 years. Honkin’ Huge, a recent addition following the departure of Full Moon Burrito, consistently has a long line of students waiting for hefty burritos that often double as dinner.

Basha’s has been around for about two years and has also faithfully served the students, until now.

Portland State values entrepreneurship and many students work with the school’s business outreach programs to launch small businesses in Portland. Professors teach in classes from history to business about the dangers of monopolies in America’s capitalist society. The federal government is probing Microsoft for possible monopoly violations right now.

Portland, the progressive city, should want to show students that they too value small businesses, entrepreneurship and years of hard work. However, with their “urban renewal” track record, it’s hard to tell. (Who remembers what MLK used to look like?)

Portland State students don’t need another monopoly on their food choices. Basha’s can stay, but the city shouldn’t force another food monopoly on students.