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Food Cart

portland sidewalk
Photo Credit: Aimee Green/The Oregonian

PORTLAND, OR – A woman who claims she broke her foot while standing in line in front of a food cart on a crowded downtown Portland sidewalk is suing the food cart’s property owner and the city of Portland for $58,970.

According to the suit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Bonnie R. Colaiuta claims the food-cart line she was standing in on July 13, 2013, was blocking the sidewalk nearSouthwest Ninth Avenue and Alder Street, so she stepped aside to let pedestrian traffic pass.

But as she did, she stepped into a square-shaped hole in the sidewalk — a tree well that was uncovered, her suit states. The misstep broke Colaiuta’s fifth metatarsal bone in her right foot, according to the suit.

Colaiuta’s suit faults property owner Goodman Generations LLC and property management company Downtown Development Group LLC — both for allegedly failing to follow city code by keeping the sidewalk free of hazards and failing to erect a barrier around the tree well. City code specifically places the responsibility of maintaining sidewalks in good repair on property owners.

Find the entire article at oregonlive.com <here>

farm city coop vancouver

VANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver may be replete with food trucks offering every delicacy conceivable on our bustling city streets, but one new venture hopes to give busy Vancouverites the chance to eat healthy, fresh, and local – at home.

This week saw the roll-out of the FarmCity Fresh Cart, which offers a veritable cornucopia of fruit and vegetables, as well as eggs, local honey, preserves, sodas made from locally farmed fruit, and an assortment of snacks and salads on the streets of downtown Vancouver and New Westminster.

This micro farmers’ market is the result of a partnership between the good people at Re-Up BBQ (who’s food cart at the Vancouver Art Gallery was taken out of commission by a bus, and has been sorely missed ever since) and FarmCity Co-op, a collective of small scale urban farmers across Metro Vancouver.

“FarmCity Fresh Cart is an innovative, grassroots means of nurturing and growing a network that links urban farms with local restaurants and consumers,” said Re-Up BBQ co-partner Lindsay Kaisaris in a press release this week. “We’re excited for the collaboration that the Fresh Cart brings. We’re able to pool crucial resources to help generate profits and exposure for local farmers and small businesses that may not have had the same opportunity on their own.”

Find the entire article at wevancouver.com <here>

chicago food carts

It’s wonderful to see an ordinance formally introduced. But with election not taking place for 9 months, you can bet pushcart vendors won’t see any progress until the members of city council feel safe to place a vote that won’t hurt their chances for re-election.

CHICAGO, IL – Pushcart food vendors operating illegally on the streets of Chicago took a baby step out of the shadows Wednesday.

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) formally introduced the ordinance drafted by pushcart vendors and their legal advocates, even though it’s an issue that some of his colleagues are not interested in tackling nine months before the aldermanic election.

The ordinance would minimize the city’s inspection burden — by forbidding pushcart food vendors from cooking outside and allowing them to sell only food made in a city-licensed and inspected kitchen.

Chicago remains one of the nation’s only major cities that bans street vendors from selling anything more than frozen desserts and uncut fruits and vegetables. Cooked food or cut fruits and vegetables are off-limits.

Even so, scores of vendors defy the law, selling tamales, tacos, hot dogs and other food from push carts across the city while living in fear of arrest. Maldonado is one of their loyal customers. He buys tamales every Sunday after church.

“I’m not worried about any political repercussions. I’m worried about doing the right thing for this group of entrepreneurs that are sometimes being singled out by police. Chase them out. I don’t think that’s right,” Maldonado said.

“This has been going on for years. It’s not going to go away. Why not legitimize them and have them operate like legitimate businesses in Chicago?”

Maldonado said pushcart food vendors should have been legalized when the City Council authorized food trucks with cooking on board. They were “left out” simply because aldermen lacked the “political will” to confront an issue they have dodged for years, he said.

“The University of Chicago has spent a lot of time with the Department of Health going through safeguards so the proposed ordinance meets all [city] standards,” he said.  “Because of that, hopefully, we’ll find the political will now to incorporate this group of entrepreneurs and finally have them come in out of the shadows and be able to operate freely.”

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, reiterated Wednesday he’s not eager to tackle the “very difficult” pushcart vendor issue because there are “so many different perspectives from aldermen and the communities they represent.”

“It’s less than nine months before the election. People are going to be operating under self-interest. That has to be considered. But, if it could go through and it won’t hurt my constituents, I could support it,” Solis said.

Find the entire article at suntimes.com <here>

willy dog hot dog cart

We always like to learn more about our winners.  The man behind our 2014 Hot Dog Vendor of the Year, Jim Bontaine has a story to tell.

It’s funny how a disagreement with an employer can completely change your life.  For some, it means joining the local police force, for others it means taking a step away from corporate life to be your own boss.  It was this decision that led him to take ownership of the Willy Cart, now lovingly known as the Willy Dog.

Jim started in the food service business when he was young.  He spent summers working at his family-owned a trailer park in Cayuga grilling hot dogs and burgers every Sunday.  While his dad worked in Toronto during the week, he and his mother ran Conway Park.  Jim did a bit of everything.

After his father’s passing, they gave up the park and Jim held sales and management jobs in a variety of places.  All of that experience taught him how to run his own business… And I know the students of McMaster are happy his path brought him to Hamilton, Ontario.

He started with one cart outside of a local beer store on Dundurn Street twenty years ago.  He quickly branched out seeking nighttime locations, eventually expanding to 4-6 bars weekly at night, while maintaining his day spots.  He got to know the students in town and upon their requests; Jim explored a spot on campus.  After a brief negotiation, his on-campus location was approved in November 2003.

Jim and his staff have rarely missed a day in the last 10 years.  In his time on campus he’s gotten to know the McMaster students, worked to raise funds for their organizations, and become a part of the fabric of the community.  In fact, the Art Gallery of Hamilton requested Willy Dog at the wedding reception on behalf of their clients, students that met while getting their ever-present, always delicious hot dogs.

Students at McMaster can study a variety of degrees, but Jim always reminds the students to “Study Dogology this term” on all of his promotional fliers.  He was even approved by a university committee to have an authentic maroon Mac jacket made up with the Willy Dog logo on the arm, “Dogology 101” on the back indicating his inaugural year of 2003 on campus.  This jacket is a source of pride for Jim and his place in the McMaster community.

Jim sees many of the same students week after week.  To cater to McMaster’s international student and faculty clientele, Jim has added all sorts of toppings to his offerings.  Willy Dog’s customer favorites are ketchup, onions, crushed BBQ chips and Sriracha sauce.  Some recent additions are cilantro chutney and tamarind hot ‘n spicy date chutney.  The variety of toppings on his all beef, halal chicken and veggie dogs keeps his menu exciting for his customers.  When Jim isn’t on campus, he can be found with an extended menu catering private events or with his Willy Dog Cart in many of Hamilton’s special events, such as the Super Crawl in September.

Jim has been able to build a great business, one in which he takes great pride.  “This business isn’t for everyone,” he says.  “Don’t expect overnight to suddenly make money.”  The responsibilities of owning your own business are challenging, let alone the long hours of standing and the weather.  After speaking with Jim, it sounds like none of that bothers him.  His students and his involvement in Hamilton constantly energize him.

What’s next for Jim and Willy Dog?  He’s so excited about the food truck industry and considering expanding onto four wheels.  He’s also got his sights set on a takeout location in the west end of Hamilton.  It looks like the students of McMaster and the people of Hamilton have let this entrepreneur grow and thrive.  We’re always happy to support those visionaries that build their empire, especially when it’s one delicious hot dog at a time.

NYC Push Cart

Rahm Emanuel continues to push the idea that food trucks in Chicago are thriving under his leadership, too bad the Mayor’s “Yes Men” have him blinded to the truth.

CHICAGO, IL – Pushcart food vendors operating illegally on the streets of Chicago may finally emerge from the shadows.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he’s looking for a way to sanction and regulate their activities — just as he did two years ago when he convinced the City Council to legalize food trucks with cooking on board provided they remain at least 200 feet away from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“Prior to my tenure, we had years of debate between the restaurant industry and the food truck industry. We worked through and negotiated and now have a thriving food truck industry and also a thriving culinary and restaurant scene in Chicago,” the mayor said at an unrelated news conference on CTA security at the Kimball Brown Line station.

Emanuel said he wants to evaluate the ordinance drafted by pushcart vendors and their legal advocates to minimize the city’s inspection burden — by forbidding them from cooking outside and allowing them to sell, only food made in a city-licensed and inspected kitchen.

But he said, “If you look at the past example of this — food truck vs. restaurant — we weren’t stymied by debate. We worked through the issues so both could thrive together.”

Beth Kregor, who helped draft the ordinance in her role as director of the Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School, was encouraged.

Kregor obviously would have preferred a full-fledged mayoral endorsement. But she’s hopeful the carefully-worded statement is Emanuel-speak for trying to forge a compromise similar to the one that paved the way for a partial ban on plastic bags while exempting restaurants and small independent retailers.

“I take it as a cautious statement. The mayor wants to make sure safety provisions are in place,” she said.

Chicago has emerged as a culinary capital of the world, but remains one of the nation’s only major cities that prohibits street vendors from selling anything more than frozen desserts and uncut fruits and vegetables. Cooked food or cut fruits and vegetables are strictly off-limits.

Even so, scores of vendors defy the law by selling tamales, tacos, hot dogs and other food from push carts across the city while living in fear of arrest.

Find the entire article at suntimes.com <here>

willy dog hot dog cart

Do you like hot dogs?  With more than 45 percent of the 5,000 votes cast in our recent poll, it’s apparent that Hamilton, Ontario loves the Willy Dog Hot Dog Cart!  We are proud to announce that they are Mobile Cuisine’s 2014 HOT DOG VENDOR OF THE YEAR.

We are happy to celebrate this great news with Jim Bontaine, the owner of the Willy Dog Cart.  He’s made McMaster University his year-round home rain or shine and the students deserve a huge shout out!  They overwhelmingly supported Bontaine and his hot dog creations.  That’s the type of news that keeps us interested in the mobile food community.  The community!

To accommodate his diverse student clientele, he’s created over 30 toppings for his dogs.  There’s something for everyone from every corner of the globe to cover your veggie, beef or halal chicken dog.

As the Spring term starts, we wonder what the future holds for this McMaster University institution.  Will we see more colorful carts around town?  Will there be over 40 toppings by Fall term?  Whatever comes next, we can’t wait!  All we know is that Bontaine and Willy Dogs will be there to serve the best hot dog dishes!  Based on Willy Dog lovers, we think a road trip is in order to try as many of those creative toppings on every dog.  We heard there would be a riot if he ran out of barbeque chips!  Hmmm…  I’ll leave my pitchfork at home and bring extra napkins with my appetite.

Rounding out our top 5 Hot Dog Vendors of the Year are: 

2. Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs – Buffalo, NY – 30%

3. American Wiener – Tampa, FL – 14%

4. Short Leash Hot Dogs – Phoenix, AZ – 4%

5. Good Dog Hot Dogs – Houston, TX – 3%

Hungry for more?

We’ll take a deeper look into Willy Dog in a feature article later this week.

portland food cart brewery

Portland food cart pods are showing that adding alcohol to their menus hasn’t been negative to the city at all.

PORTLAND, OR – A couple of years ago, Portland’s food carts — beloved by hipsters, downtown business people, neighborhood folks and tourists alike — offered strictly PG fare.

Now, they’re all grown up.

Nearly a third of the city’s food cart pods now serve beer, wine or cocktails.

Thirteen of the 36 food cart pods citywide have in the past two years sought and received liquor licenses from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Thanks to a set of OLCC restrictions on the licenses, the infusion of alcohol hasn’t had any ill effect on the industry.

“We haven’t seen any public-safety impact at these businesses,” says Christie Scott, an OLCC spokeswoman. The OLCC board approved the restrictions as permanent rules last Friday, for the first time differentiating food carts from other outdoor areas like patios and sidewalk seating.

The rules limit customers to no more than two drinks at a time (16 ounces of beer or cider, 6 ounces of wine, or 2 ounces of distilled spirits); except to allow two people to share a standard 750-ml bottle of wine, and three people to share a 64-ounce pitcher of beer.

“No minors” signs must be posted, and there’s no drinking or amplified music past 10 p.m.

Finally, boundaries for the “alcohol consumption area” must be enforced by the licensee.

The more social, community-minded vibe is a big draw for the carts, especially out in East Portland, says Roger Goldingay, owner of Cartlandia, on Southeast 82nd Avenue, as well as the 10-cart Mississippi Marketplace in North Portland.

“There’s nothing cool out here, except us,” he says.

Two years ago, he was the first in the city to be granted a food cart alcohol license, after a bureaucratic struggle.

Two weekends ago, Cartlandia opened The Blue Room, an on-site bar and restaurant that will offer live music on the weekends and a place for people to enjoy a beer with their food cart fare.

The space features its signature teal walls, a stage for live music, five large-screen TVs to play sports and “Portlandia,” and a bar made from a salvaged piece of an 1860s church and an old pipe organ. They offer beer 18 beers and ciders on tap, along with cocktails and a short menu of five items, required by the OLCC.

Find the entire article at portlandtribune.com <here>

Jordan Epping Food CartPORTLAND, OR – He owns a business and he doesn’t even have his driver’s license yet.

A Keizer boy was thrilled to get his business cooking in a mobile food cart that he’d saved up to buy.

But it was stolen right after he bought it.

“I’m taking French class and we made crepes. It’s really interesting,” said 14-year-old Jordan Epping.

That lesson inspired Epping to make crepes and sell them out of a food cart.

“I’ve always been interested in starting a business and this crepe business sounded like a really good idea,” he said.

Last week, Epping bought a cart off of Craigslist.

He used all his savings.

“It was originally listed for $400, but the guy was on Craigslist so long I got it for $150,” he said.

Jordan had plans to fix it up with corrugated metal, install a sink and sell crepes.

“I’ve actually already registered as the sole proprietor with the IRS,” he said.

His menu cover shows the name of his business: La Crepe Ape.

“I actually had my grandpa lined up to be an investor, for three percent,” he said.

But on Monday, someone stole the cart from a locked storage lot in Salem.

The storage lot was closed that day and they don’t have cameras.

“It would really be nice to get it back because of the time and the money,” said the teen.

Jordan just wants the cart back so he can get his business rolling.

The cart was so new that it wasn’t insured, yet.

His mom filed a police report with Keizer police.

On Friday afternoon, Epping said someone found his cart on the side of Gregg Butler Auto Body Shop in Jefferson and that he’s got it back.

Persistence is the first ingredient to any success.

Find the original article by Erica Heartquist at KGW.com <here>

black marketVANCOUVER, CANADA – Vancouver City Hall has halted new food cart applications for 2014 after realizing some venders were flipping their permits by using a “loophole” that allows card holders to sub-lease their licenses.

According to a letter sent last month to street venders, city street activities co-ordinator Alan Rockett said council would be asked to ban the so-called “renting” of street vending permits.

The proposal would additionally limit the number of permits each business can have.

The city currently has 138 food cart permits issued.

The recommendations are expected to go to council in February.

Coun. Kerry Jang said on Tuesday the subletting problem is an issue that wasn’t foreseen when the city’s food cart program was first set up in 2010.

“Somebody would get a couple of licenses and sublet it to somebody else at a higher profit, that’s sort of a loophole,” he said.

“So somebody would pay a $1,000 fee (to the city), and say, ‘Hey, I got two. So here you can have (one) at $10,000.’”

Staff, he added, had also been tasked to monitor the program also to ensure “brick-and-mortar” businesses weren’t being impacted unfairly by the street venders.

According to city hall, applications for the street vending program are assessed based on food safety requirements, business plans, ingredients used, among other factors.

Find the original article at vancouver.24hrs.ca <here>

food cart cityNAPERVILLE, IL – When we first read the headline of the original article we were thrilled to see another Chicagoland suburb open their arms to (or continue to in Naperville’s case) to the mobile food industry. Then as we read into the article the thrills turned into eye rolls. Wow, the city is is going to allow two whole food carts to operate…how generous.

Downtown Naperville likely will continue to be home to two mobile food carts for the foreseeable future, but the fare may not always be limited to red hots and ribs.

The city’s Downtown Advisory Commission members agreed Thursday to recommend to the city council that the 3-year-old food cart program be allowed to continue in perpetuity with the number of permits restricted to two. The recommendation also suggests the city annually seek requests for quotes from all interested companies, with a deference to established vendors.

Councilman Joe McElroy, who also sits on the commission, said he supports renewing the food cart program as long as the permits are capped at two.

“We finally have this thing working well so let’s leave well enough alone,” McElroy said.

“If we expand it, we’ll cause more unrest and I really want this to be less of staff’s life.”

So the reason they left the program at two permits was because if there were more, the life of the council would be disrupted by angry brick and mortar store owners? Well, now I understand their thinking…*rolls eyes again*

Find the entire article at dailyherald.com <here>

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