Portland Loosing Iconic Food Cart Pod

By Katerina Mon Belle

The Pigeon Press (Portland, Oregon)

A landmark of Portland culture, the original food cart pod located on SW Fifth Ave. and SW Stark St., may be torn down and replaced with a building.

“Ever since I was a freshman,” Richy Swinford, a senior, said, “I’ve been going to the food carts and I feel like they’re kind of a part of Northwest Academy.”

The Goodman family, who owns the lot, plans to build 11 new multi-use towers throughout downtown Portland, one of which situated where the food carts are now. These buildings are meant to serve the droves the young professionals who have flocked to this city in recent years.

Getting rid of the Stark food cart pod will affect the employees and owners in different ways.

“I’m going to have to rock out food somewhere else, simple as that,” Cory Shipley, Marina food cart employee, said. “It’s what I do day in and day out and as the city evolves and changes, so do we as the citizens of Portland.”

Others are less optimistic. Monika Viteh, a Czech immigrant and co-owner of the Schnitzelvich cart, opened her business with her husband 12 years ago.

“I’m concerned because this is my livelihood,” Viteh said, “but this is not my property so what can I say. We will have to leave.”

Food carts often don’t have total security in their location and it is fairly common for them to come and go based on rent prices.

“The thing is, in our contract we have a month to month lease, its not a lease for years so this has been in the back of our minds that something can happen,” Viteh said.

The building plans, however, have not yet been finalized.

“People all over the world know Portland for having food carts,” Joe Douglas, KATU News reporter, said. “Its these blocks here we’re seeing on these maps and it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room for this stuff.”

The Alder food carts, which are closer to the school, are very important to students and the rapidly evolving downtown landscape causes concern.

“If it was the Alder food carts I’d be in tears but these are just a little too far away,” Chloë Mathis, a senior, said.

The food cart culture in Portland is important to students.

“I don’t understand how we can put food carts in the airport because they’re what make our city unique and special and it’s what greets people as they come to our city,” Jared Kerman, a senior, said. “But there are real food carts downtown that are important and original and we’re tearing them down to get buildings.”

Photo Credit: The Pigeon Press

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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