August 28th, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Business, Activism

Only City Hall Food Cart Leaves, Citing Harassment

UPDATE: Fuego Burrito manager says he finds political heat "burdensome."

fuegoburritoFuego Burrito at 11:15 Monday, Aug. 26 - Aaron Mesh

The first and only food cart to set up shop in the plaza of City Hall has left, citing slow business and harassment by homeless protesters.

Mayor Charlie Hales' office confirmed Fuego Burritos had left the City Hall picnic area set up by the mayor last month to replace homeless campsites he swept from the Southwest 4th Avenue sidewalk.

Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes says the owner of Fuego Burritos moved his cart back to the sidewalk in front of the Portland Building—one block away. Haynes says the cart owner told the mayor's office his employees were being harassed by protesters camping along nearby parks.

"He said his workers had been harassed every day by protesters," says Haynes, "who said they were serving burritos on a religious shrine."

On July 23, the mayor's office removed a set of homemade shrines from the City Hall plaza, including the thatch tent that calls on people entering City Hall to pray for the end of the city's camping ban.

The Portland Mercury first reported on Twitter today that the city's facilities department is putting the plaza's $4,000 metal tables and chairs into storage.

UPDATE, 1:45 pm: Fuego Burritos manager Tomas Karwowski sent an email Tuesday to the city's facilities department, saying he would move his cart because he didn't like getting caught up in "a social and political dispute."

Karwowski was also troubled by ideologically-motivated competition, including activist Cameron Whitten giving away free burritos to protest Hales' homelessness policies.

Here is the full text of the email:

Wendy, we will be moving our cart back to our previous spot as soon as tomorrow.
Our sales are much lower, but what is more bothersome is a social and political dispute we find ourselves to be in the middle of.
During last week we have been approached by activist daily, yesterday Occupy Portland were giving away free burritos very next to our cart.
I am sorry that this did not work out, for it seemed, if only for a moment, the opportunity could have benefited us both.

Let me know your thoughts,

Tomas Karwowski
Fuego Food Carts Manager
 
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