Food carts catching flak from restaurateurs

Some Portland restaurateurs think the city’s popular food carts should be held to the same regulations as indoor eateries.

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Some Portland restaurateurs think food carts should have to be held to the same regulations as brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The restaurateurs feel unable to compete with the low prices food carts offer.

In terms of sanitation and how the food is handled, the carts are held to the same standards as restaurants and receive twice-yearly inspections, according to the Multnomah County Health Department. But other costly requirements that apply to restaurants, such as maintaining plumbing for an on-site restroom and a three-sink hand washing facility, do not pertain to carts.

In an interview with Portland Business Journal, departing Metro President David Bragdon said it would be more economically viable for the city to prop up conventional restaurants rather than promoting its preponderance of carts. And other restaurants also claim food carts are cutting into their lunchtime business. “How are we supposed to compete when our costs are ten-fold what theirs are?” says Jennifer Ray, co-owner of Morning Star Café, which sits across the street from a pod of more than 20 food carts on Southwest 3rd between Washington and Stark. “I can’t slash prices to $5 per meal. I have rent to pay and a staff of about 15 people.”

Read more at Enzyme PDX.

For a more ind-depth look at Portland’s food carts, check out our January 2010 feature story.

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