May 4th, 2011 | by RUTH BROWN Food & Drink |

After Two Years, Picnic Finally Opens

This food cart's no flash in the pan.

picnic food cartJohn Dovydenas and his mom - Photo courtesy of John Dovydenas
Yeah, I know, we're a little bit food cart-ed out, too, but I couldn't let this one pass without comment because I have been waiting and watching so long:

For the past 2 1/2 years, John Dovydenas has been planning to open a food cart.

For all those (including us) who criticize the flash-in-the-pan, bandwagon-jumping wannabe chefs selling junk out the back of a camper van, Dovydenas should serve as a reminder that some people put just as much time and sweat into this street-food caper as brick-and-mortar outlets.

Since September 2008, Dovydenas has been meticulously building his cart and menu, blogging the entire adventure along the way.

“My father spent five years building a wooden airplane in his garage, so I think I wanted to do something similar,” he says.

This week—958 days after his first post—he finally opened the handmade window shutters to his cart, Picnic, at Southwest 9th Avenue and Washington Street.

The DIY fan built his cart from scratch—from installing septic tanks to selecting the right font to hand-making the brackets. “I kind of slowly decided I would focus very closely on every detail. I spent a week at one point cutting two decorative joints for the front.”

Dovydenas, who previously ran a supper club at his house for two years, is applying the same scratch-made approach to his food.

“I'll make everything I can in the cart. So for a ham sandwich, I will salt and smoke the ham, make pickles and aioli, and bake sourdough bread every morning.

The menu will focus on “re-imagined” versions of sandwiches he ate growing up, such as: “a white bean frittata and cilantro sandwich; a Reuben with my own corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut; [and] a beet and chèvre sandwich.”

The debut menu also includes chocolate chip cookies baked by his mom. That's just freaking adorable.

EAT: Picnic, SW 9th and Washington, pdxpicnic.com. Tuesday-Friday 11 am-2 pm. $ Inexpensive.
 
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