Browsing articles in "food cart"
Oct 2, 2014
Jim Benson

Pok Pok Headed to PDX; Food Cart Crimes

NE/Rose Garden— The Moda Center, home to the Portland Trailblazers, is getting a double-dose of Bunk this fall, with the opening of a club-level Bunk Bar that will offer a bigger menu than the cart on the arena’s third floor. The menu looks to be a solid lineup of Bunk’s greatest hits, including the classics like the Pork Belly Cubano, Mole Tater Tots and Icebergs (draft beer with a float of frozen margarita).  [EPDX]

NE/Airport— Soon you’ll be able to get your Pok Pok fix on your way in or out of Portland International Airport. A new, quick-service, pop-up location is slated to open at PDX in October, just in time to ease the pain of holiday travel. The contract goes until late summer 2015. No word yet on if a more permanent location is in the works. [EPDX]

Westside— Boke Bowl, purveyors of the finest unconventional ramen you’ve ever slurped, plans to offer a “Boke Sum” brunch at their Westside location starting in mid-November. On the menu horizon: bao stuffed with kimchi and pork belly, shrimp-and-peashoot har gao dumplings, and “Boke Marys” made with nori and Korean chili. [EPDX]

Southeast and North— A crimewave hit Portland food carts earlier this week. In just two days almost 20 Portland food carts had their power cords cut and stolen. Some carts were even hit two nights in a row. Cord-cutting is an all-too-common occurrence for food carts, which are vulnerable to thieves looking to strip out the copper wire and sell it for scrap metal. Not only are the cords expensive to replace, the loss of power results in hundreds of dollars of spoiled food, and a day of lost sales. [EPDX]

Northeast— The former chef of Slappycakes, a beloved Portland breakfast spot, is opening a Southern-focused breakfast and lunch spot called Muscadine by mid-October. A Mississippi native, Laura Rhoman spent more than 10 years working with Southern-cuisine icons such as Scott Peacock and Martha Hall Foose. Half the menu will focus on classics like fried chicken or catfish, while the other half will explore lesser-known regional specialties. [EPDX]

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Oct 2, 2014
Jim Benson

Here’s How Much it Costs to Start a Tiny Food Cart Business

Tips from a Taco Seller: How to Start a Tiny Business

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BROOKLYN — Chef Duvaldi Marneweck envisioned his tiny Goa Taco food stand as something he could start simply, planning it with just the “basics and absolute necessities” since he had limited capital.

Marneweck, a South African native who most recently had been cooking in kitchens of Perth, Australia, folds a paratha — a flatbread popular in India’s city of Goa that he calls “the buttery love-child of a tortilla and croissant” — like a taco. Then he fills it with delicious flavors inspired by his world travels, like charcoal-roasted pork belly with chipotle mayo and pickled red cabbage; seared skirt steak, feta caprese, and a fried egg; and a banh mi-inspired combo with poached turkey or tofu.

But starting a business in New York City isn’t easy, no matter how small.

Marneweck moved to New York this summer for his wife’s research gig at Columbia. He launched his food stand in July at “Smorg Jr.” at the Park Slope Flea on Seventh Avenue, an offshoot of the wildly popular Smorgasburg run by the Brooklyn Flea founders.

His projected start-up budget was $4,000. It ended up costing nearly double.

“It ended up being way more costly than I thought it would be,” said Marneweck. 

As a veteran cook who started commercial kitchens from scratch, he had a clear vision of his start-up needs. Still, he was still surprised the red tape he found here.

“There are so many permits you need,” he said, adding, “Little things add up, from printing tickets to the grills and gas bottles.”

Here’s a breakdown of what went into it:

1. Find the right product and name (cost: years of experience)

One morning several years ago, Marneweck was hungry but had few things in his house except for paratha bread. So he made a bacon and egg with it and was hooked.

“We were referring to them as ‘delightful treats,’” he recounted. “I knew it was a good product. We figured out a quirky name for them. The word taco was the closest description because of its shape.”

He sources the ingredients from the “right suppliers that do the right thing and have good meat and high standards” rather than something “factory-farmed and hormone-fed.”

“People absolutely love it,” Marneweck said. “At the market, people walk back and say, ‘Thank you so much. That was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.’”

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2. Find a location (cost: $125 a week)

Having a good location is critical, Marneweck said.

He toured the Smorgasburg on prior trips for his wife’s academic conferences and applied to the popular Williamsburg market before moving here, but didn’t land a spot. The Flea offered him space at Smorg Jr., in front of P.S. 321, on Seventh Avenue and First Street, which costs $125 a week to rent for Saturday and Sunday, and is paid on a week-to-week basis, Marneweck said.

Three of the five new vendors who started at Smorg Jr. didn’t return after the first weekend since business was slow, Marneweck said. That part of Park Slope often empties on weekends. But Goa Taco plans to stay through the market’s November run and has seen an uptick in business post-Labor Day.

Now Marneweck is setting up pop-ups at bars and elsewhere, spending Labor Day weekend on the North Fork of Long Island at the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company and at Park Slope’s Mission Delores last weekend. He will be at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg on Thursday night.

His goal is to have a pop-up shop in someone else’s space or find a short-term lease.

“At the moment, it would be impossible to lease a place. I don’t have a credit rating or history here. Unless you have a ton of money to put down, it’s too difficult,” he said. “It was hard enough to find an apartment, never mind a commercial lease.”

3. Start an LLC (cost: $1,250)
The first step in starting Marneweck’s business was registering it as an LLC, or a limited liability company.

“I’ve never done any of that before. So, I spent hours and hours and hours on the Internet trying to get information on the steps to do it,” Marneweck said.

He finally found the website run by the city’s Department of Small Business.

It cost Marneweck about $250 to register his business as quickly as possible. He also had to spend $1,000 on publishing in different newspapers that he was setting up an LLC, which is required by state law, he explained.

4. Get documents for paying sales taxes (cost: free)
To run a business, you first have to get an EIN — or Employer Identification Number — through the Internal Revenue Service

Once you have that, you can then get your sales tax certificate of authority through the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Marneweck said.

5. Obtain other permits (cost: more than $250)

To sell food from a temporary food establishment, Marneweck needed various permits from the city’s Health Department, including a permit for the establishment (roughly $120), a propane permit (roughly $70) and food permit (roughly $70). He also needed to take a health exam, which he did online. It was “basic stuff” for him since he was a chef with culinary schooling, he said.

6. Buy equipment (cost: roughly $6,000)

Just as starting the LLC was more labor intensive than Marneweck thought, finding cooking equipment and other needed tools “took hours and hours and hours of research.”

It cost roughly $6,000 for everything from napkins, utensils and chopping boards to tables, materials to build the stall, the grill spits, charcoal and other items. Some things he bought online and some he bought locally, mainly from cooking equipment shops in Chinatown.

“I was trying to save on every single thing,” he explained. “There were silly problems I ran into, like the spit that I worked with needed electricity but there was no electricity at the market.”

He could have bought generators, but that would have cost $1,000. He found a $300 solution that was more labor intensive. He bought a motor that could run on battery but had to convert it to running on a car battery.

“The motor took way longer than I thought to get here [from California]. It arrived the day before I had to do the market,” he said. “I had four hours to rig something up.”

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Sep 26, 2014
Jim Benson

Five things to know about York’s proposed food cart ordinance

York City Council members have been served a slew of new recommendations for regulating mobile food-cart vendors on Continental Square and beyond.

The proposals come from an ad-hoc group created months ago by the council. Members of the committee included brick and mortar restaurant owners, food truck operators and city government officials.

The council discussed the ordinance at its meeting Wednesday night and moved it onto its legislative agenda, where it will be put to a vote Oct. 21.

Read more here.

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Sep 25, 2014
Jim Benson

Portland food cart owners ripped off by apparent copper thieves


Several Portland food cart owners had to temporarily close up shop after being hit by apparent copper thieves who ripped off their commercial power cords.

“I’d guess they’d get $5, 10 bucks out of a cord,” cart owner John Nashlund said. “It’s certainly not as much as what it costs me to go out and fix it.”

Nashlund owns two carts in the food pod off SE Foster and 52nd – and said they were both targeted along with nearly everyone else inside Carts on Foster – nearly a dozen in all.

While some have already made repairs after the thieves struck Monday night, others still remained closed on Wednesday, unable to afford the fix.

“Oh, it was a kick in the guts, from the second that I heard it to when I actually saw it,” John Kiphart, the owner of The Angry Unicorn, added.

Both say they’re out several hundred dollars, including the cost of buying new cords and the loss of business while being closed.

Kenny Goss is one of the few owners who wasn’t hit.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Goss said, guessing the thieves were scared off before they had the chance to reach him. “It’s an eerie feeling. It’s a blessed feeling. It’s a depressed feeling – because we’re all family, and our family members got hurt bad.”

Similar stories have been reported from food carts at Cartlandia on SE 82nd and Mississippi Marketplace in North Portland.

“What makes it sting a bit is it’s not about my particular cord or my business, it’s about those folks feeding their addiction. It’s about the epidemic that is methamphetamines,” Kiphart added. “They’re stripping cords for the copper – for one fix, that’s it.”

The owner of Carts on Foster said new security improvements are going in, and said despite these setbacks, the pod will be ready for its big food festival this weekend.

Copyright 2014 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Sep 25, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart proposal moves forward despite vendor objection

York City officials’ longtime goal of opening more public sidewalks to food cart vendors is nearing realization.

A committee led by Downtown Inc is recommending the city permit a maximum of six food cart vendors to operate at designated locations within the Central Business District.

They also propose a maximum of 20 annual licenses for carts operating outside the central district.

The city currently allows just one food cart to operate, and that cart is relegated to a single location on Continental Square.

At a committee meeting Wednesday, the York City Council decided to introduce the proposal at its Oct. 7 meeting. The council could vote on the legislation as early as its Oct. 21 meeting.

However, not everyone is thrilled with the committee’s recommendation.

Vendor objects: One objector is Darren Borodin, who’s operated a hot dog stand on Continental Square with the city’s lone cart license since 2012.

A main motivation for the ordinance overhaul is the desire to change the system used to award the single license. If more than one vendor applies, a lottery system determines the winner.

While Borodin has been able to maintain his stand since 2012, he’s faced the possibility of losing the license each year.

The proposal, he said, creates a new problem.

As it’s written, the proposal would require vendors to re-apply for a license and a location each year. If more than one vendor applies for a single spot, then a bidding war ensures.

The location would literally go to the person willing to pay the most for it.

“You could potentially lose your business every year,” Borodin said.

In business, consistency is important for creating and maintaining a customer base, he said.

Philosophical differences: Councilman David Satterlee, a member of the committee that developed the proposal, said the committee tried to solve problems with the legislation by comparing policies related to brick-and-mortar restaurants.

For example, he said, the bidding process is similar to restaurateurs competing for real estate. Satterlee said he’d like to eliminate subjectivity in the legislation.

Manuel Gomez, a city resident who attended many of the mobile-food committee meetings, said the whole proposal is based on a faulty premise of “artificial scarcity” of licenses created by the government.

“Why six downtown?” Gomez said.

The city should legislate rules to maintain health and safety and leave the rest to market forces, he said.

Councilwoman Renee Nelson said she thinks cart vendors should be allowed to maintain their spots beyond a one-year license, if they choose.

“If you are successful, you should be allowed to stay,” she said.

— Reach Erin James at

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Sep 24, 2014
Jim Benson

Fed regulations shut down special needs students’ food cart

Thanks, Michelle Obama! It was a nice program while it lasted, having special needs students in the culinary arts program at Marietta (GA) High School run a food and coffee cart selling baked goods to faculty and students. But the new federal regulations pushed by FLOTUS put the kibosh on it. The Marietta Daily News reports:

 Limits on the calorie counts of foods that may be sold to students have interfered with the special education and culinary arts programs at Marietta High School, said Principal Leigh Colburn.

The special education students sold coffee and food such as muffins to teachers and students every morning last year, but Colburn said the calorie counts of those items fall outside the new regulations because they’re more than 200 calories, which is the limit for a snack sold outside of lunch. In addition, the 2010 federal regulation Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act limits the amount of sodium, sugar and calories in each food served at lunchtime.

The cart was operated and stocked by the 16 students in the special education program, but since August, the coffee cart has been locked in a closet because the students can’t sell to other students, Colburn said.

It’s for their own good, of course. We’re incapable of making these judgments on our own, and need Michelle Obama to tell us what to eat.

Hat tip: Tammy Bruce, iOwnTheWorld

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Sep 24, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart vandalization continues: Power cords cut and stolen from pods across … – The Oregonian

Food carts owners across Portland arrived at their carts Wednesday morning to find their power cords had been cut and stolen. 

Six carts at the Mississippi Marketplace, The Big Egg, Meet BBQ, Minizo, Koi Fusion, Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen and Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ have had their cords cut or tampered with within the last week, as well as many of the carts at Carts on Foster, including The Angry Unicorn and The Egg Carton. 

“Yesterday, we arrived at the cart to find they had cut the locks off of our power box and simply unplugged our cord and left it on the ground,” Gail Buchanan and Elizabeth D. Morehead, owners of The Big Egg, said in an email. “So we decided to buy PVC pipe to run our cable through so that it would maybe deter someone who just wanted to cut and run.”

Buchanan and Morehead also purchased two locks for their power box. But, when they arrived at the cart Wednesday morning, the duo found their PVC pipe conduit broken into pieces and their 220VAC (voltage alternating current) cord missing. They said the cord was cut live — the locks on the power box remained intact.

Across town at Carts on Foster, other carts shared similar frustrations.

The Egg Carton shared their news on Facebook:

“We are closed today but wanted to let everyone know that most is (sic) the carts at the Pod had their power cords stolen last night. Collectively the cart owners will be out thousands of dollars. Most of the carts will be open tomorrow so please come out to support the carts! We plan to be back Thursday as usual.”

Replacing the cables will cost hundreds of dollars, Buchanan and Morehead said, in addition to the loss of daily sales and spoiled product. 

– Samantha Bakall  

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Sep 22, 2014
Jim Benson

Syracuse University football player, London native opens food cart on campus

Growing up with two parents who worked full-time schedules, Alex Hodgkinson always found himself experimenting in the kitchen.

As he grew older, that experimentation led Hodgkinson to discover a passion for cooking, a passion that he always wanted to translate into something tangible — a food cart.

Hodgkinson, a junior and reserve kicker on the Syracuse University football team, achieved that goal about three weeks ago when his very own food cart, Pinocchio’s Pushcart, opened up right on the SU campus.

“I always loved the idea of small food options you see on the side of the street and it’s just a quick bite to eat,” Hodgkinson said. “Especially nowadays where a lot of kids and people don’t have the time and don’t make the time to eat.”

Originally from London, Hodgkinson uses his food cart to reflect his own identity.

“I’m half American and half English so it would be British Sausages and American hot dogs,” Hodgkinson said. “It’s kind of a reflection of who I am and where I come from.”

Hodgkinson is anything but a normal student. For the London native, majoring in classical civilizations with a double minor in marketing and architecture, owning his own business and playing Division I football always keeps his schedule packed, which is what he wants.

In that regard, Hodgkinson said he takes after his mother by taking on a lot.

“He is determined and willing to put the time into making things happen,” his mother, Cathy Hodgkinson, said in an email. “He might have my gene for this, but really he has developed all of his mental and physical skills himself.”

And Hodgkinson has made a lot of things happen. When he first came to campus one of his biggest goals was to walk on to the football team. Hodgkinson played rugby his entire life. When he arrived at SU he decided to pursue kicking as well as play on the SU Hammerheads club rugby team to stay fit.

By the end of his freshman year, Hodgkinson was given the chance to kick for some of the coaches on the football team and was able to walk on to the team. His first game took place in 2013 against Wake Forest, and although he didn’t get on the field, he said running out of the gates with his teammates was a great experience.

Forrester Pickett, Hodgkinson’s former roommate, said Hodgkinson is always making new plans, and unlike many people, he always puts in the effort to see them come to fruition.

“People think he’s just talking, but he always follows through on what he says he’s going to do, that kind of just goes for everything he says,” Pickett said. “Everything from walking on to the football team to what he’s doing in advertising and with the food cart now. He’s just making movements.”

Pickett said Hodgkinson had been talking to him about starting a food cart since they were freshmen, and that everything he does is close to his heart.

Hodgkinson’s teammates also recognize how important his ideas are to him. Ryan Norton, a fellow kicker on the football team, said Hodgkinson often talks about his food cart at practice and in the locker room.

“He’s loving it. He’s definitely got his heart in it and still obviously focuses on football,” Norton said. “It’s hard to balance both, but he’s a hard-working kid and he can do both.”

As for Pinocchio’s Pushcart, Hodgkinson is excited to keep the ball rolling. The food cart is located right at the top of Walnut Park across the street from Bird Library, which gives the business a lot of foot-traffic, Hodgkinson said.

“We kind of give off a quite cool vibe,” Hodgkinson said. “During the summer I was out there kind of doing some dancing just for fun. So it’s not only the food, people come to hang out in front of it.”

Hodgkinson can once again experiment in the kitchen because all of the cooking at Pinocchio’s is done on site. He said he uses hot dogs to explore more complex cuisines for his menu.

Just this week the cart debuted its Chilean dog, a hot dog topped with caramelized onions, guacamole and chunky salsa.

“I’m taking the traditional American dog and adding an international twist to it to keep it exciting,” Hodgkinson said.

Going forward, Hodgkinson’s main focus with Pinocchio’s is making it a more consistent operation. Hodgkinson said he wants the cart top be open everyday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so students can grab a bite as they go to class or just take a study break hanging out in front of the cart.

Hodgkinson even said he is thinking about opening the cart for late nights on Thursdays and Saturdays for the crowd returning home after a night out on Marshall Street.

He is also coming up with ideas to adapt the business to Syracuse’s harsh winters.

“During the winter we might have a heater there so people can drink hot chocolate, coffee, hot apple cider and kind of huddle around there,” Hodgkinson said. “So it’s kind of a social thing. Obviously there’s no better thing that goes with socializing than food.”

Although the future for Pinocchio’s is uncertain, what is certain is that Hodgkinson has already accomplished many of his goals during his time at SU and won’t stop anytime soon.

“In America, I’m out of my comfort zone, so I have this sort of this innate energy,” Hodgkinson said. “I know it sounds cliché but it just comes out from me. And whereas back in London I may be relaxing more, here I’m kind of always on the go and I don’t seem to burn out because I just have this kind of fire in me.”

September 18, 2014 at 12:01 am

Contact Brendan:

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Franny’s food cart now serving near Sibley Hall

A new food cart designed and operated by students has been serving the campus community from the plaza behind Sibley Hall since late August.

The cart is the result of a student-led project for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) and is named for donor Frances Shloss ’44, B.Arch. ’45.

Staffed by students and managed by the Statler Hotel, Franny’s features a menu of wraps and sandwiches, dumplings, rice bowls, crepes, salads, iced coffee, tea and a few desserts.

“AAP reached out to the Hotel School to be the operator,” said Gregory Mezey ’09, director of food and beverage at the Statler Hotel. “We weighed the pros and cons and thought it was a good opportunity to do something that has an entrepreneurial spirit, and this provides our students with a new venue.”

Food trucks have become increasingly popular, he said. “We came up with a concept menu and built what has evolved into Franny’s.”

The menu is “a mix of Korean, Vietnamese and Indian, and a splash of Latin American and Mexican flavors,” Mezey said. “We thought it was an underrepresented cuisine on campus and a really popular and successful one locally.”

Graduate and undergraduate students from all three AAP disciplines were involved in every phase of the project, from ideas to installation, saw it through to completion over a series of construction delays and kept a blog on their progress.

Food cart history

There have been mobile and permanent dining facilities at the north end of Cornell’s Arts Quad since the late 19th century, when The Sibley Dog, a local vendor’s wagon behind Sibley Hall, served hot dogs and other fare as one of only four food options then on campus. The Dog became the Campus Restaurant, in a wooden building that was removed in 1911 to make way for Rand Hall. It was rechristened the Sibley Pup and moved to the basement of Sibley Hall, sold cigars as well as food and was privately managed until 1915 when it became a university dining facility that lasted until 1921. The College of Architecture moved from White Hall to the remodeled Sibley Hall in 1959, and the former Pup has been the site of The Green Dragon café since 1968.

A design charette in February 2012 led to a mini-competition among three design teams, said master’s student in the field of computer graphics Nicholas Cassab-Gheta, B.Arch. ’14. Designers Alison Nash, B.A., BFA ’98, M.Arch. ’14, and Piotr Chizinski, MFA ’13 (who co-organized the charette with Benjamin Cummins, MRP ’13) and Cassab-Gheta worked on the project that summer to finalize the design and construction documents after Nash’s team’s concept for the cart was selected. The project’s faculty adviser was visiting critic Luben Dimcheff, B.Arch. ’99.

“The schematic concept was that it would be an ice cube or a glass box that would glow,” Cassab-Gheta said.

Known as the “Glow Truck” since the design stage, the cart’s translucent outer shell is lit from the inside at night by an array of dimmable LEDs. The modernist design complements nearby Milstein Hall. The cart was fabricated by craftsmen at Stonewell Bodies in Genoa, N.Y., which specializes in veterinary and farrier trailers.

“The overarching concept is for the ‘glow’ truck to serve as a beacon to draw passersby into our new AAP neighborhood underneath Milstein and behind Sibley Hall,” Nash said. “The truck can be seen by students walking from North Campus to the Arts Quad through the undercroft of Milstein Hall, and from buses and cars driving on University Avenue. We wanted to create an inviting atmosphere and to ‘warm up’ the north-facing plaza to create an inclusive gathering space for art, planning and architecture students and visitors to AAP.”

Franny’s is open from 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, and closed 3:30-4 p.m. daily.

“It’s very popular amongst the AAP students and faculty, and we’re hoping it catches on with the rest of the campus,” Cassab-Gheta said.

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