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Food Carts

PORTLAND, OR – Being near a food cart pod is very, very good for downtown office buildings and their owners.

Jones Lang LaSalle startled us last week with a report that Class A buildings are significantly more occupied if they are within two blocks of one of Portland’s four primary downtown food pods.

Portland Food-Cart Vacancy

The vacancy rate for food cart-adjacent office buildings is just 5 percent, significantly lower than the market average of 8.3 percent.

This isn’t a complete surprise. As I’ve visited with businesses signing leases for “creative space,” food carts are a constant theme.

Chris Cook, COO for New Relic, said as much when the San Francisco-based software company decided to lease two floors at U.S. Bancorp Tower, 111 S.W. Fifth Ave. “Big Pink” had a landlord eager to accommodate its need for an open design space for its growing Portland engineering operations and proximity to food carts.

“Everyone leaves and gets a food truck lunch,” he told me a week ago, by way of explaining the company’s collaborative culture. “We eat lunch together every day, every body”

We asked Patricia Raicht, vice president for research at Jones Lang LaSalle, to dig deeper into the leasing numbers associated with food carts. Bon appétit!

Food carts are dishin’ up good news for landlords. After hearing how food cart pods weighed in on several companies’ evaluation criteria for a new home, we at Jones Lang LaSalle decided to do a more in-depth analysis of what the office market dynamic is for those areas.

According to goodcartsportland.com, Portland has over 475 food carts and many of them are organized into what are known as “pods.” While many food carts call downtown Portland home, there are four major food cart pods in the central business district, three located on the north end between Southwest Alder and Stark and one at the south end of downtown near Portland State University.

We analyzed the office market within a two-block radius around these pods two ways.

First we looked at Class A space and found that there is just over 3.5 million square feet of competitive office space across 10 buildings. This building set’s combined vacancy rate, leasing activity, and rental rates have significantly outperformed the rest of the Class A market.

Portland’s Downtown Class A vacancy rate is very tight at 8.3 percent, yet these buildings’ vacancy levels sit more than 300 basis points below that overall figure, with a 5 percent vacancy rate. During 2012 these buildings have experienced more than 150,000 square feet of leasing activity, and a rental rate spread of over $2.00 per square foot exists for these buildings with an average asking rate of $28.57 per square foot, or $2.08 more than the Class A average of $26.49 per square foot.

Second, we expanded the analysis to include both Class A and B buildings in the same geographic area.

Find the entire article by Patricia K. Raicht and Matt McClenaghan at the Portland Business Journal <here>


PORTLAND, OR – Police arrested six people in connection to a fight that broke out Monday afternoon at some downtown food carts. The fight is believed to have been part of an ongoing conflict between food cart operators and “street youth,” police said.

Portland food cart attackAmir Amani, the 31-year-old operator of the cart, Persian Plate, was attacked by a group of people after he accused the group of cutting the gas line to a nearby food cart.

The suspects range in age from 18 to 25.

They were expected to be charged with fourth-degree assault, menacing, harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct.

Portland police officers had responded just before 4 p.m. to the food carts on SW Stark, between Second and Third Avenues.

As officers responded, they learned some of the people involved in the fight were armed with weapons, such as knives and sticks, or were being threatening, police said.

Another food cart owner, a man named Lefty, said he’s fed up with the homeless young adults who hang out downtown and the vandalism and harassment he believes they’re responsible for. “They call themselves gutter punks. They have different names for their different gangs,” he said. “We’re harassed all the time by the street kids. They’re down here every day panhandling. When people don’t give them change, they call them names (and) threaten them.”

He said the harassment turned violent when a gang of people surrounded him and fellow food cart owner, Amani, after the two men reported vandalism of a cart’s gas line to police. “If we didn’t have something to fend them off, you know, it was like walking through a blender,” Left said. “All of them had knives, and they attacked us. I mean, it was like a bad movie.”

“It’s not a good feeling when there’s 15 people surrounding you with knives and brass knuckles trying to stab you, I mean, it’s scary,” Lefty said. I have to protect myself… A bunch of kids trying to kill me, I have to protect myself,” Amani said.

There were some injuries but none was serious.


MADISON, WI – In Madison, people dining at food carts don’t have to eat their veggies, but in the future, they could get the choice.

Madison food-cart Fibs

The city’s Vending Oversight Committee, as part of its annual review of food carts, on Wednesday was scheduled to  discuss whether carts must offer vegetarian menu items.

Although the idea is on the agenda for discussion, there is no formal proposal for the requirement and the committee will not be voting on the matter Wednesday.

The suggestion came from a city food cart reviewer who is a vegetarian, street vending coordinator Warren Hansen said.

“I always tell new applicants to include at lease one vegetarian item because there’s a demand for it,” Hansen said. “It’s just good business.”

But actually requiring the option is probably impractical, Hansen said.

In refining its scoring system, the committee also will consider adding “green” points for using biodegradable or recyclable containers, environmentally friendly fuel choices, or buying local, and discuss whether to toss out high and low scores that can skew a rating.

The city deploys about 20 raters — about half of them city employees — to score carts in the last week of September. Scores are based on food, apparatus and originality. Points can be added for seniority and deducted for heath citations.

The city licenses 48 food carts. The top five scorers this year were FIB’s — Fine Italian Beef and Sausage, Curt’s Gourmet Popcorn, Zen Sushi, Dandelion Vegetarian foods and El Burrito Loco. Complete cart rankings are at go.madison.com/cartrankings.

The committee was to meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Room 313 of the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

We’ll keep you updated if this story changes.

Find the original article by Dean Mosiman at the Wisconsin State Journal <here>



food truck blog

While Mobile Cuisine is food truck blog that covers the mobile food industry around the world, however there are numerous blogs across the country that cover specific areas that food trucks roam. From New York to Miami and Toronto to Dallas there are bloggers that cover the gamut of mobile food businesses. This poll has been set up to find out which local mobile food blog is the favorite in North America.

To do this, we have listed the Top 18 local food truck blogs. Your job is to vote for your favorite.

This poll will run through Friday, November 9th (11:59 PM Central Time). Once the votes have been tabulated, the winner will be announced. The winner will be able to claim the title of Favorite Local Food Truck Blog as well as have the chance to be part of a feature story here at Mobile Cuisine that delves into the individuals who run these blogs and why they write what they do.

So help us spread the word for your favorites.

List of local food truck blogs as well as links to their sites:

Atlanta Street Food Coalition – Atlanta, GA

Burger Beast – Miami, FL

DFW Food Truck Foodie – Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

Food Carts Portland – Portland, OR

Food Trailers Austin – Austin, TX

Food Truck Fiesta – Washington DC

Food Truck Freak – Chicago, IL

Food Truck Nerd – Silicon Valley, CA

Hub Food Trucks – Boston, MA

Looking for Food Trucks – Los Angeles/Orange County, CA

New York Street Food – New York, NY

Orlando’s Food Trucks – Orlando, FL

San Diego Food Trucks – San Diego, CA

Saturday Night Foodies – Los Angeles/Orange County, CA

Seattle Food Truck – Seattle, WA

Stitches ‘n Dishes – Bay Area, CA

Street Grindz – Hawaii

Toronto Food Trucks – Toronto, Canada

We apologize to those bloggers we may have missed. There are many mobile food blogs that didn’t meet our criteria for this contest as many bloggers cover other topics than mobile food, have not posted in the last month, or have their blog solely set up as a Facebook page.


PORTLAND, OR – While Portland has long been known for their fantastic acceptance of the mobile food industry, it has primarily been food carts that have been able to thrive (there were nearly 700 licensed food carts in December of 2011 according to foodcartsportland.com).


Last month the city approved legislation to allow roaming food trucks to being working within the city limits. To date, only a single vendor (Love Cupcakes) has taken the city up on this offer. You may be wondering what has kept others from licensing a mobile bistro, so were we.

According to an article from theforecaster.net there are a number of reasons:

  • Critics have complained the new rule is too restrictive and unfairly protects existing brick-and-mortar restaurants.
  • The rule confines mobile food vendors to some city parks, a few streets around the edges of downtown and industrial off-peninsula locations between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • The rule also bans food trucks from operating within 65 feet of any working kitchen on the peninsula, and within 200 feet from other commercial kitchens.
  • Food trucks can operate on private property in non-residential sections of the city during the day, and anywhere during the off-hours. But the trucks still have to keep their distance from existing restaurants.
  • The maze of regulation is one reason Love Cupcakes spent the summer in Falmouth.
  • The city ordinance limits food trucks in public spaces to a length of 20 feet.
  • Food trucks on privately owned lots can be up to 40 feet long.

We hope that the city will revise the current restrictions to allow more vendors to feel confident enough to start a new food truck in their city. Protectionism seems to have entered into the discussion as it has in so many cities across the country.


Tamale food cart created by NSAD student Arnulfo Rodriguez

SAN DIEGO, CA –A design studio class at New School of Architecture and Design (NSAD) headed by instructor Hector Perez explored the unusual typology of human-propelled food carts. The project was done in collaboration with another NSAD design studio lead by NSAD instructor Casey Mahon that explored digital manipulations of surface. The integrated assignments challenged the students (in their second year of studies in the Bachelor of Architecture program) to explore the interaction possibilities of food carts in a parking lot near San Diego’s downtown ball park.

The hypothetical scenario –  in which sections of the parking lot could be designated as spaces for the food carts during tailgating events –  encouraged students to evaluate the relationships between sites and projects (the parking lot) and social dynamics (the tailgating scene). Such explorations of function, scale and site form the basis of any architecture or design project, and allows students to develop skills they can use in the future for projects as small as a food cart and as large as a skyscraper.

Tamale food cart created by NSAD student Arnulfo Rodriguez

Sushi food cart developed by NSAD student Jonathan Chau

As many of our readers may know, my background is not in the culinary arena or even in journalism…its architecture. Due to the recession and the fast drop in the industry, I was forced to look for another field to work in. Luckily for me, I found the mobile food industry as it was picking up steam across the country.

Due to the fact that architecture and urban planning schools are looking at the mobile food industry for their students to investigate and to hone their skills on, means that the industry should not fear the label of being a short lived fad. Instead, mobile food should be looked at as a trend in the food industry that is growing and will even morph into areas that have yet to be explored.



SAN JOSE, CA – Metal Gourmet, Inc., a San Jose-based builder of premium mobile food trailers and carts, has announced a new line of Gourmet Catering Carts. The carts are ideally suited for onsite cooking and showcasing gourmet food offerings on patios, at pool side and other guest locations on the properties of restaurants, wineries, and hotels, resorts and country clubs. These carts are also being used in the corporate campus environment for employee food service. Their cooking versatility makes them equally at home at off-site catering venues, such as private parties, sporting, lodge and community service events, or at charity fund-raisers.

“The quality and versatility of our Gourmet Catering Carts received rave reviews at the recent CaterSource show in Las Vegas. In particular, many caterers in the hospitality industry saw our carts as an affordable and practical way to support high-end catered events, or to expand their exposure by participating in local community food events,” said Bud Rogers, President of Metal Gourmet.

The Catering Cart can be configured to meet the particular needs of professional chefs, including a 4-burner grill, large griddle and steamer. The carts fit through a standard 32″ doorway and are built on a rugged welded tubular steel frame with easy-roll swiveled casters. Base priced at $8,000 (Model GCC-S64D), the handsome Gourmet Catering Carts represent a modest investment that allows caterers and catering companies to serve guests in style at just about any venue.

The Gourmet Catering Cart features 100% stainless steel enclosures and three stainless steel food cooking appliances-a 32″W x 30″D Griddle with removable ½”- stainless steel griddle plate; a 16″W x 30″ D Steamer and a 32″W x 30″ D Grill with 4 separate 35,000BTU burners. The cart (31″W x 87″L x 43″H) has built-in easy-clean grease trays, accommodates 4 propane tanks, two insulated roller drawers and a large storage compartment. It is has a tough stain-resistant power-coat finish available in many custom colors.

For more information on Metal Gourmet, please call the company at (408) 595-3360 or visit the web site at www.metalgourmet.com.

About Metal Gourmet:

Founded in 2011 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Airtronics Metal Products, Metal Gourmet™ designs, builds and distributes premium quality mobile food trailers and carts for the mobile food industry. Metal Gourmet trailers and carts comply with California health codes and feature NSF-approved components. Metal Gourmet trailers are manufactured by Airtronics, a licensed trailer manufacturer.


NEW YORK CITY, NY – Even as Occupy Wall Street protesters are decrying the grip of big business on America, they are causing angst for some small business that are well within the 99 percent: The New York food carts and tourist stands that surround Zuccotti Park. And while the occupation has been compared to the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square, the mostly Egyptian kebab cookers and breakfast sellers who are losing their livelihoods aren’t too sure.

Zizi Elnagouri, a voluble native of Alexandria, Egypt, has spent five years selling pastries on the corner of Cedar and Broadway. She whirled her hands as she spoke, flapping her apron to make a point. “From the beginning of this, we lost all our business,” she lamented. Elnagouri took matters into her own hands, venturing out into the square to tell the occupiers “we are out of business.” Some were glad and others sympathetic. But Zizi was shocked. “I couldn’t believe they were American. Do you see how they look? What they are wearing? I don’t believe. This must be the Third World!” Zizi is accustomed to well-fed New Yorkers in suits, not people begging for free doughnuts. “Sometimes they buy coffee … it depends on who gives them money. I feel sad for them. It’s hard for Americans to start the day without coffee.” But although she said the destitution in the square reminded her of the Third World, the occupation didn’t strike her as another Tahrir. “We were fighting for a big, big thing: for life, to eat, against a giant snake that would kill us.” Unsurprisingly, she employs a smart breakfast metaphor: “Here, they’re not fighting to eat, say, regular bread, but … special bagels or something.”

Magdy, who runs a halal cart and grins when he gets nervous, asked that his last name be kept anonymous; he was afraid for his operating license. Magdy moved from Cairo two years ago and, in his opinion, “all this is not much like our revolution.” Magdy had a question for me. “Are these people for real? Do you know?” I asked him what he thought. “I don’t know. I have no idea what these people want. But they aren’t buying.” Business has “not been good” since the occupation came to town. As we spoke, an occupier came up and started yelling slogans outside. He rolled his eyes and turned away.

The most outwardly angry of the Egyptians was John, also from Alexandria, who specializes in falafel (very good, spicy falafel). He’s been working on Cedar Street for ten years and told me last week, “This is terrible business. I hope they get the money they’re protesting for, then they can give me some.” Today, he was more explicit. “I don’t want them here. They don’t buy, they get food inside. Now I need money from the government.” He hinted that he had lost his temper with occupiers before, but wouldn’t go into details.

In the crush of the park, it’s difficult to move the carts from place to place at the beginning and end of the day. For Ahmed and Mustafah Abed, both New Yorkers, this means an all-night hot-dog vigil. “We can’t leave. People are sleeping in the park, so if we leave, we can’t bring our cart back in,” said Ahmed. His father, another Egyptian immigrant, has owned the stand on the corner “since before they built the World Trade Center.” But now, his sons have had to join on permanently to keep the family business alive. Though they sympathize with the occupation’s aims, Ahmed says their stand has lost most of its old customers. “I support what the protesters are saying … but man, this is bad.”

Find the entire article <here>

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – We found out from The Salt Lake Tribune that it’s been tough getting food from a street cart in Salt Lake City this week.

On Monday, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department shut down nine food carts, mostly those that sell tacos around 800 and 900 South and State Street. Here’s the list of those affected.

  • A and J Foods
  • Sanook Thai
  • El Rey  Del Taco #2
  • Tacos Don Rafa #2
  • Tacos and Mariscos El Paisa
  • Tacos and Taueria El Paisa
  • Taco LuLu
  • El Rey del Taco
  • El Toro Tacos Food Cart

The number one violation for all the carts was lack of an approved commissary, the commercial kitchen where they must prepare their food.

It seems the owner of the commissary has been in jail. Without the certified person on site to oversee operations, the commissary is no longer acceptable.

The taco carts and health department officials are meeting this morning to figure out a solution.

“We’re going to watch this season and see what we can improve on for next season,” City Clerk Cherilynn Tallman said.

FERNDALE, MI –  Two hot dog carts, two taco trucks and an ice cream man: Meet Ferndale’s new street food vendors.

“Since I’ve been here, in four years, this is the most we’ve seen,” City Clerk Cherilynn Tallman said.

At the July 11 City Council meeting, three concessionaire licenses were approved for Jacques Tacos, Detroit Underdog and Motor City Franks. At the next meeting on July 25, one was approved for Treat Dreams, and another, for Taco Mama, was tabled to further discuss its suggested location.

Taco Mama wanted to park in the first street parking spot going west on West Nine Mile, in front of Organic Food.

Council members felt that designating that spot to the food vendor, and the size of the truck itself, would block the facade of Organic Food. Tallman said the city has already discussed an alternative spot for Taco Mama in the Withington parking lot.

However, with the growth of these businesses in Ferndale, the City Council is sensitive to the effect they might have on downtown and on downtown businesses.

“We never had any, and now we’re getting them, and it’s kind of cool,” Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter said at the July 25 council meeting. “But we’re going reach a point where it’s not as cool. We’re not there yet, I don’t think — but at some point, we’re going to want to manage it.”

Tallman said there are always potential issues when introducing something new to a city, such as street vendors, but so far, there have been none.

“We want to avoid issue with clear pedestrian access as well as not blocking the view and the access to brick-and-mortar business on Nine Mile Road,” Tallman said.

Detroit Underdog serves hot dogs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, then from 10 p.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Sunday for the bar crowd.

Demian Mendoza, owner of Detroit Underdog, sets up at 306 W. Nine Mile, near Huntington Bank; 195 W. Nine Mile by the Ferndale Arts Building; and 251-253 E. Nine Mile Rd. at Greenleaf Bodywork, the business of his wife, Charity Mendoza.

“I never seen a hot dog vendor here, and this is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Mendoza said. “It’s a perfect time.”

Mendoza said he started his business plan in “late April, early May.”

“If I knew how long it would take, I would have started sooner,” he said. However, he added, working with Ferndale has been great.

Find the entire article at the Ferndale Patch <here>

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