Portland: Land of Food Carts; Food Trucks Not So Much

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.


2017-03-31T08:42:50+00:00 By |Off the Wire|

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One Comment

  1. Heather Sep 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    We do have a lot more stationary food carts in Portland, but to say that we have only one mobile food truck is simply inaccurate. Koi Fusion, Thrive PDX, Home Plate Sliders, and Momo Cart are the mobile carts that come to mind. I think the reason we have so many stationary carts is because the regulations are really lax here on those… a cart owner, gets the lower overhead of a food cart, while having the same reliability of location as a brick and mortar restaurant. I think the lack of mobile carts is only an indication rather than a detraction of our super vibrant cart scene. I could be totally biased… I operate a stationary cart… and LOOOVE it. Being mobile seems like an infrastructure nightmare! -H

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