Food fights brewing in the streets of Portland

The battle for customers between restaurants and food carts is being taken to the law while restaurants call for enforcement of legislation that states that the food carts must move.

The battle for customers between restaurants and food carts is being taken to the law while restaurants call for enforcement of legislation that states that the food carts must move.

In Multnomah County, food carts are considered and licensed as mobile food units, meaning they have to move around from place to place. However, most of the food carts around Portland don’t really move at all, and have been where they are for some time now. Students on the Portland State campus can attest to that.

The Portland Tribune
recently reported that lobbyist for the Oregon Restaurant Association, Bill Perry, says that because these food carts do not move, then they are nothing short of restaurants.

New legislation should be introduced so that food cart owners as well as restaurant owners alike can be happy.

It is pretty clear that despite the recent praise by citizens and media about food carts throughout the Rose City, not everyone is a fan of food carts. Some restaurant owners are declaring that because the food carts are not moving when they are supposed to, it is giving them an advantage for customers and profits.

Restaurants also have to provide restrooms and hand washing facilities whereas food carts do not. And food carts also have less of a startup cost than restaurants do. What food carts do need is a license from the county health department, which runs about $315 for most carts and possibly $345 if the food is prepared elsewhere and then brought in.

Currently the present law is not being enforced, aggravating restaurant owners and giving food cart owners an advantage. Therefore a new law is being called for. So what can be done?

There should be some of sort of compromise that both restaurant and food cart owners alike can live with.
After all, everyone has to eat, and both food carts and restaurants give Portlanders a multitude of options.

Food carts should not necessarily have to pack it in and move everyday. But something must be done to level the playing field. For example, food carts should have to be at least a certain amount of feet away from a restaurant so that they are not right next to each other.

It would also be beneficial for food carts to require some sort of hand washing station like restaurants do. Maybe in a place like Portland State where there are a number of food carts together, there can be one communal hand washing station for all of the food carts in the park blocks. This way it puts them more on the same level in sanitation requirements as restaurants without them becoming restaurants.

Or food carts could follow the footsteps of Roger Goldingay who created the food cart pod, Mississippi Marketplace at North Mississippi Avenue. The Mississippi Marketplace consists of Prost!, the pub and a food cart pod.

In the food cart pod there is seating for about 100 people as well as portable toilets and an ATM. The seating area has tables that sit under rain-shedding canopies. If the weather proves to be too harsh to bear, customers of the food cart can take their food inside the pub as long as they have a drink with their meal.

Goldingay recruited ten food carts to his location. The owners of the food carts pay $495 each month to reside in Goldingay’s food cart pod. So far this method has appeared to be successful and it could be the new way citizens see food carts as more and more people are looking to mimic Goldingay’s method.

Both food carts and restaurants provide their own benefits to the Portland community. Portland State’s campus would look a lot different without the food carts around it. They provide reasonably priced, good food to Portland citizens without having to go into a restaurant and sitting down. Food carts are a good alternative to fast food.

Of course sometimes a person wants the atmosphere of a restaurant and the ability to be able to sit down and enjoy a good meal without having to rush around and eat in a hurry. There are advantages to both.

They are both vital parts of Portland so it is important to figure out a new law that makes food cart owners and restaurant owners happy in the Rose City.