Advocates Push for Alleyway of Eateries to Try to Save Dozen of Food Carts

Portland could get a culinary corridor between Director Park and O'Bryant Square

(Thomas Teal)

Dozens of food carts are slated to be displaced for redevelopment, but a trio of advocates has a proposal to keep those businesses alive.

The plan calls for the creation of a "culinary corridor" by replacing some parking spots downtown, and while the precise area is up for debate, the current focus is 9th Avenue between Director Park and O'Bryant Square. That would potentially make room for some of the 55 carts located on 10th Avenue and Alder Street. The block will at some point next year need to be cleared for construction of a mixed use hotel.

Related: Southwest Washington Food Cart Pod May Soon Be Replaced With 33-Story Mixed Use Building

"If fully evolved," explains Randy Gragg, a Portland writer and urban design proponent, "It could house somewhere between 20 and 30 carts."

Gragg pitched the plan to City Council yesterday along with Brett Burmeister, a food cart tour guide who also runs an online guide to Portland carts, and Daniel Huerta, owner of Churros Locos. Many of the logistics need to be fleshed out, including electrical access, wastewater disposal and overall property management. But the Gragg is optimistic.

"The mayor seemed very enthusiastic about the concept," Gragg says. "The proposal is high-concept, but pretty low-tech."

Ultimately, the corridor supporters want to at least kick start a conversation about ways to maintain an iconic part of the city.

"They've become a huge attraction. Portland is known for its food carts," Gragg says. "What can we do to keep the draw of street food and keep our carts where young chefs and immigrants can get a leg up?"

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