March 16, 2010

Food carts in Portland

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We’d heard that Portland had “100s” of food trucks. So while up there Rolando and I were excited to learn about the food truck scene.

First thing to know is that they aren’t trucks. More like cards. Imagine the set-ups you see at fairs here in New England at the end of summer. Pierogi, french fries, fried dough, you get the idea. They park in clusters in parking lots.

We heard from several vendors that the whole thing is a real estate racket. Some old family in Portland owns all of the parking lots. So they charge $1,500-1,000 per spot to vending trucks. 15-20 trucks/ lot. That’s good money. No investment, no infrastructure, minimal taxes, etc.

There are something like 8 or 9 of these lots. Some have as many as 30 carts, though many have less than 10. They have picnic benches, tables, etc. Some lots are oriented towards lunches. But others are late night spots, like we saw in LA. Which means we were out prowling the town late at night again. We heard some vendors talk about customer counts in the 100-200 range on busy summer nights. And we learned what a Whiffie is.

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