Browsing articles in "food cart"
Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart to start delivery services

Food cart to start delivery services


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It’s late at night, and students from the University of Iowa are looking for a meal around 10:30 p.m.

Now, they’ve discovered a food cart on the Pedestrian Mall: Cornroc.

Makotsi Rukundo, the owner of Cornroc, has noticed a sizable increase in the number of student customers since the beginning of the school year.

“It is a different kind of setting than a restaurant,” he said. “It’s outside, so I get to talk to customers.”

Rukundo said a decent number of his customers are travelers that like to grab their food and go, which is very beneficial to his business.

“We draw in such a large population of freshmen who grow tired of comfort food such as pizzas, meatball subs, and Mexican food,” he said. “When I was in college, I’d seen all sorts of changing businesses, but no one realizes there are food carts.”

Rukundo wants to create a car delivery service for students because so many of them are taking a liking to his food cart, but he is not able to use food trucks.

“The city’s regulations are already specific to the size of the cart,” he said. “We want to set up so that on Saturday nights, college students can call with a specific order, we get their location, and deliver. This will definitely help with popularity. They must use their credit card.”

City Clerk Marian Karr said the city does not govern delivery services, but rather the zones in which they conduct business.

“We do not usually allow commercial use of streets and sidewalks,” she said.

Karr said they are beginning to try to make use of mobile vending trucks, but they are not seeing much success.

Doug Beardsley, the director of Johnston County Public Health Services, said that anyone providing food to the public must have a permit and they must follow regulations.

“Hot foods must be kept hot, and cold foods kept cold,” he said.

Beardsley said that public-health services could indeed license Rukundo’s food cart if it meets the food standards for food trucks.

“There is no restriction by the health department as to where food trucks operate,” Beardsley said.

UI freshman Danny Poole said although he likes to eat at Hillcrest, he said one reason he thinks students are beginning to go to Cornroc is to seek out variety in what they eat.

“It’s a nice way to get away from burritos and pizza, and it lets us try something new,” Poole said.

Poole said he thinks students in general would prefer not to walk across the Pentacrest to get a bite to eat, so he endorses the delivery service idea.

UI sophomore Erin Jones said every once in a while, it is good to try something new.

“It’s good that it’s open so late,” she said. “I have classes at very inconvenient times, and I often miss meals.”

Jones also said she likes the food-cart style when compared to the atmosphere that restaurants create.

“I work at a restaurant, and I’m not really able to talk that much to customers,” she said. “I think it’s good to have that connection. That’s why this place sounds so cool.”

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Sep 19, 2014
Jim Benson

Hawthorne’s Food Cart Pod Gets a Reprieve

The pod is home to some of the city’s most successful and long-standing carts, including Whiffie’s Fried Pies, Perreira Crepes, Pyro Pizza, and Potato Champion, who posted the good news on their Facebook page. “We have no info regarding what happened with the sale of the property,” the owners wrote. “We only know that we get to spend two more years serving you all great food from this amazing location.”
· Cartopia Food Cart Pod Staying Open After All [Oregon Live]
· All Previous Cartopia Coverage [EPDX]

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Georgia special ed kids’ food cart is latest casualty of federal calorie counts

  • Students in the Workplace Readiness course at Marietta High School operated a coffee cart but due to the recent restrictions on food and drink from the White House, the students are unable to sell the coffee and hot chocolate to students. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

  • Jerome Anderson, Kelvin McLemore and Louisa Thielemann, all students in the Workplace Readiness course at Marietta High School participated in operating the coffee cart which was a mean to make money to support the jobs for those students involved in the program, where they learn valuable job skills they hope to take into the workplace. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

  • After paying his dollar for a hot cup of coffee to Workplace Readiness student Jerome Anderson, teacher Tom Lewis gets his morning coffee at Marietta High School. (Marietta Daily Journal/Kelly J. Huff)

Federal regulations have upset the coffee cart at a Georgia high school.

Government limits on the calories in food sold to public school students have stifled both special education and culinary programs at Marietta High School, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. Students at the school learned baking and business skills by manning a cart that sold coffee and muffins to teachers and students every morning last year, but the business recently got the boot due to rules imposed by Washington.

Muffins exceeded the 200-calorie limit placed on snacks sold on school grounds under the 2010 federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which also limits sodium, sugar and calories in each food served at lunchtime. The cart was operated and stocked by the 16 special needs students, but since August, the coffee cart has been locked in a closet collecting dust.

“Our students need those opportunities to interact with others because they are very shy and they don’t have a lot of opportunities to speak,” Christy Hunt, a special education teacher at the school told the Daily Journal. “It was really about our teacher curriculum and teaching our kids real-life skills in a real-life setting. It’s part of what we need to teach them, and that part of it in the school system has been taken away by the Healthy Kids Act.”

Hunt added what most at the school feel about the program—that the coffee cart was also essential to teaching the students vital job skills.

One parent shared her sentiment with the newspaper.

“One thing I know she really enjoys about it is getting her out and about within the school, just getting them integrated with the rest of the school and just interacting with other typical kids,” Anna Thielemann said her of daughter, Louisa, who is 17 and has developmental delays and autism. “Even though it might seem like a little thing to people, it’s just huge and they’re able to incorporate so much within that process … just a lot of different types of life and job skills. It’s just really a shame to see this program fall or not be able to be done because she was so proud of it, too.”

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act imposes two major changes that only took effect this school year. Whole-wheat flour must replace white flour as the main ingredient in all wheat products and food is also being produced differently to lower sodium levels.

The schools are focusing on keeping total calorie counts in the range of 750 and 850 calories for each lunch served to students in ninth through 12th grade.

While the healthy eating initiative has been pushed by the Obama administration, some snacks sold in the White House blow right past the 200-calorie limit, some have noted. A correspondent for CQ Roll Call tweeted out a picture of a vending machine at the White House that contained a 570-calorie honey bun.


It was not immediately clear if there were any healthier snack options in the vending machine.

Click here for more from the Marietta Daily Journal.

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Markum Inn opens food cart during renovations

Connie Cummings is not going to let a total loss to her restaurant slow her down.

The owner of the Markum Inn, which caught fire in the wee hours of the morning July 20, has set up a food cart in the parking lot across from her restaurant while the building undergoes extensive renovations.

“I want to do the building like it looks like from the 1800s, with pine and cedar on the inside,” she said about the vision of her restaurant, which she said could seat 100 people once complete.

Project manager Vince Rodriguez of Dallaswhite Property Restoration said the restoration to the property depends on the timeline of receiving permits, but it could be within six months.

“We’ll try to get it up and running as fast as possible,” Rodriguez said, adding that the insurance will handle the majority of expenses for rebuilding. “Right now, we’re still in the design process.”

In the couple of months since the fire, Markum Inn’s five employees have stayed busy, catering for four events.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Cummings said.

The cart is open daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lindsay Keefer covers Hubbard, Mount Angel and St. Paul. She can be reached at
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or 503-765-1193.

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Sep 18, 2014
Jim Benson

Bubble’s Doubles food cart offers tasty treats from Trinidad

Madison is famous for its restaurants of superior quality and ethnic diversity. Anyone who has strolled along State Street and the Capitol Square, however, knows that our sit-down restaurants are not the only way to eat.

There are also the little food carts of every color spotted around downtown, luring in passers-by with smells wafting on the air and offering quick food from seemingly every corner of the world. One of the newer carts, Bubble’s Doubles, features “Tasty Trinidad Tobago Food.”

The food cart is run by Morris Reid, a native of Trinidad. Reid’s nickname is Bubbles, a nickname that perhaps comes from his bubbly, welcoming personality, but he swears there is no story behind the nickname.

Doubles is also a nickname, in a way: it is the name of one of the dishes sold at the cart, chickpeas rolled up in a light, fried flatbread. Traditionally, this dish can also be sold as one piece of flatbread (called bara) holding the innards, so if a hungry customer wants more than one piece of bread, they ask for a double. The vernacular eventually evolved, turning the order into “one doubles, please.” The chickpeas are flavored with curry spices (cumin, turmeric and the like) with a mouth-watering cucumber relish on top. Both vegetarian doubles ($3) and doubles with chicken added ($4) are available.

The other item on the menu is the Dhalpuri Roti. A roti is much larger than double. Wrapped up like an enormous burrito, the roti begins with a more complicated dough. The dough is made with flour and salt and baking powder, but then is layered with a mixture of very finely ground split peas and curry spices. The dough is then rolled flat and put on a griddle, not fried, making for a healthy-tasting and savory wrapping. In fact, the dough may be my favorite part of the roti, with all its added flavor. Tightly wrapped inside the dough are curried chickpeas and potatoes, and chicken is a common addition. The regular roti goes for $6, and a roti with chicken for $8.

The flavors in the doubles and the roti are indicative of the Indian culinary influences in Trinidad and Tobago. Doubles are street food, good for a grab-and-go lunch. Actually, in Trinidad and Tobago, doubles are considered a breakfast food. Not so much here in Madison, where the food cart opens no earlier than 10 a.m.

Reid learned his cooking techniques from his mother, who wanted to make sure all her children knew how to cook for themselves. Although he had previously worked in his brother’s restaurant in Brooklyn, the food cart is his first venture in running a food establishment himself.

Reid’s allotted spot on Mifflin Street is a good one, a popular location for business people and students looking for a quick lunch, and out-of-towners admiring our beautiful Capitol building and perusing dining options. Having opened in July of 2013, his food cart has a loyal following — during my short chat with him I heard customers greeting Reid by name and requesting “the tastiest food on the square.” Reid is looking forward to adding to his menu, probably starting with a traditional rice dish from his home country.

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Sep 17, 2014
Jim Benson

SE Portland’s Cartopia food cart pod staying open after all – The Oregonian

Southeast Portland’s Cartopia food cart pod, which was slated to be redeveloped into apartments, might not be closing after all. 

In an email, Potato Champion owner Mike McKinnon wrote that he and other cart owners at the late-night pod were offered a chance to renew their leases for two more years. The letter was signed by all of Cartopia’s current tenants, including Whiffies Fried Pies, Perriera Creperie, Pyro Pizza and more. 

In May, The Oregonian reported that developer Vic Remmers had submitted plans to the city for a four-story, mixed-use development on the site, at Southwest 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Street. 

McKinnon said he didn’t know why those plans had changed. The Oregonian has reached out to the developer for an update. Stay tuned for more details. 

– Michael Russell

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Sep 12, 2014
Jim Benson

Guilty plea in vicious snowstorm stabbing of food-cart vendor – Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A Brooklyn man admitted Friday to viciously stabbing a halal food cart worker earlier this year in Grasmere during a snowstorm and to mugging two other victims.

Eric Peterson, then 20, was among three suspects charged in the savage Jan. 3 attack.

Authorities allege Peterson, Keith Young, then 21, and Christopher Daniels, then 17, assaulted the victim at about 1:55 a.m. during the height of a raging storm.

Peterson is also known as Steve Anderson and Young also goes by Kenneth Young. The three hail from Brooklyn but have ties to Staten Island.

The defendants saw the victim standing by his food cart at the corner of Hylan Boulevard and Old Town Road, authorities allege.

They rushed and robbed him, knocking him to the ground and stabbing him repeatedly with two knives and a box cutter, police sources said.

After taking the victim’s cash, the three fled, but they didn’t know the neighborhood well and were caught by patrolling police officers, one NYPD source said.

Police initially thought the 50-year-old victim wouldn’t survive, but his internal organs weren’t punctured, said sources.

Twenty-five minutes before the near-fatal attack, the suspects allegedly mugged a 29-year-old man at knifepoint at the Old Town Road train station. They snatched his cash, said prosecutors.

Peterson admitted to the two attacks and to a third incident on Dec. 20 on Bay Street near Virginia Avenue, in Rosebank.

Police said Peterson knocked a man to the ground, slashed his back and face with a box cutter, and stole his phone and cash.

Peterson pleaded guilty in state Supreme Court, St. George, to three counts of first-degree assault to cover charges in each case. First-degree assault is a “B” felony, the same classification as attempted second-degree murder, one of the charges on which the defendants were indicted.

Under his agreement, Peterson will be sentenced Oct. 6 to no less than 10 years and no more than 12 years in prison, said a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan. He’s also subject to five years’ post-release supervision.

Peterson made no statement in court beyond entering his plea.

His lawyer, Paul A. Capofari, declined comment.

Daniels’ and Young’s cases are pending.

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Sep 11, 2014
Jim Benson

Newport News could add more food cart spots

The city’s new mobile food ordinance, which went in to effect Sept. 1, gives vendors a set place to do business, but not all of them got a spot — including Newport News Shipbuilding.

The shipyard contracts with food service provider Aramark to set up food trucks inside the gates on private property, which the city cannot control.

The shipyard also wants to set up some food carts outside of its gates, City Manager Jim Bourey said, but they have to wait until the city adds new spots and apply for them along with everyone else.

The city will evaluate how the ordinance is working this month, and will likely have new spots available before the end of the year, Bourey said.

There have been no citations issued since the ordinance went in to effect.

City to disband handful of inactive boards

The city will disband five inactive council-appointed commissions and merge one with Hampton, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Among them, the Cable Television Advisory Commission was rescinded because it is unnecessary due to strict to state regulations, Bourey said. The Commission on Youth was rescinded because it overlaps with another youth board. The Architect Engineer Selection Committees were rescinded because those decisions are more staff-driven, Bourey said. The Newport News Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission was also rescinded.

The Newport News Mayor’s Committee on Disabilities was merged with Hampton’s existing committee in a joint effort to create more efficiency, Bourey said.

The changes were inspired by a study and council requests, Bourey said.

The Warwick wins historic rehab award

The National Housing and Rehabilitation Association awarded the newly-renovated Warwick with a J. Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation, also known as a “Timmy” Award.

The Warwick, built in 1928 as a luxury hotel, was the center of downtown activity before going vacant, a Community Housing Partners release stated. CHP acquired the property and turned it into 88 single-room occupancy apartments for people who were previously homeless in 2013.

Renovations were funded in part with state and federal historic tax credits and included a new roof, updated plumbing, windows, HVAC upgrades and more.

The Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Virginia Housing Development Authority partnered with CHP for the project.

There were 40 applications from 23 states for this year’s awards.

Clift can be reached by phone at 757-247-7870.

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Sep 10, 2014
Jim Benson

Food cart options include paper or plastic

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This season’s accoutrement at a storied halal cart in Astoria is sleek, clear and magnetic all over.


Fares Zeideia said he added a credit and debit card processing machine to his King of Falafel cart, which has been stationed near Broadway and 30th Street for a dozen years. The response has rapidly expanded the line that amasses behind his cart during evening hours.

“I see they’re in line feeling for cash and then get out to go to the ATM,” Zeideia said. “The neighborhood completely changed and younger crowds rarely carry cash.”

This assessment resonated with customers, like Lauren Zambelli, who happily handed over a card last week.

“It’s probably the biggest thing they could have done for business,” she said. “No one carries cash anymore.”

Zeideia, 48, said accepting cards required him to hand over about 2.7 percent of customers’ payments to credit card companies, but the fee was worth wooing clientele.

He hypothesized the fee was not behind most of his competitors’ no-card policies, but rather the burden of reporting and paying taxes that comes with it.

“I’m the first open food cart with it, I think,” he said “It’s Uncle Sam people who don’t pay taxes worry about. But I like to keep my Uncle Sam happy.”

Zeideia described the new technology as a natural move for a business that has been at the forefront of street cart strategies.

He claimed his staff began to don shirts with the King of Falafel logo and wear other traditional chef attire before others. He also described his practice of playing Middle Eastern music and belly dancing for waiting customers as unique.

“We were the first to wear these crazy pants with chili peppers on them, out in the middle of the street and playing music and dancing to entertain the customers,” he said.

About a year ago, Zeideia said King of Falafel began to allow customers to call in orders so the food was ready when they stopped by to pick it up. Now he is thinking of adding food delivery service to the menu.

Come September, he is planning to debut a food truck at Broadway and 30th Street and put the cart in storage until he is ready to open a fourth location.

King of Falafel was born out of Zeideia’s frustration over his inability to find what he called quality falafel while driving a cab.

He said he built his business by cooking everything from scratch and drawing on family recipes he covertly learned as a child. Zeideia, who emigrated from Palestine in 1981, said his mother kicked him out of the kitchen because she held traditional beliefs that women, not men, should cook.

Still, he said she came around and even offered him advice here and there as he built up his business.

Today, King of Falafel has three locations: one in midtown Manhattan, a second at 30th Avenue and 53rd Street and the original Astoria location.

The traditional Middle Eastern fare has taken home several awards at the Vendy Cup competition, open to street food vendors, and other cooking competitions.

King of Falafel will be battling other Vendy Cup winners at a new Master’s Cup cook-off later this month, Zeideia said.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌

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Sep 10, 2014
Jim Benson

Portland’s Food Carts Thrive, While SF’s Languish

Can San Francisco learn a thing or two from Portland, a city with a food cart scene that has flourished since the early 1990s?

Ever since food carts in San Francisco started serving fresh coconut rice, spicy curry and vanilla bean crème brulée in 2008 on Linda Street and elsewhere,  officials have talked about making legalization easier. Yet it still takes more than five city departments, thousands of dollars in permits and the permission of restaurants within two city blocks to make it into San Francisco’s food cart world.

As a result, some food cart vendors have remained illegal, selling food on the streets without a permit, while others have been able to leverage the cart into a legitimate business. The Magic Curry Kart, for example, became a wholesaler of sauces and the Pizza Hacker now has a popular restaurant on Mission Street, south of Cesar Chavez.

But in Portland, Multnomah County, which has 800 licensed mobile food units compared to 232 in San Francisco, the city has whittled down the process to a more straightforward and affordable endeavor. According to a recently published how-to manual from the Multnomah County Environmental Health Department, aspiring food cart vendors do not have to apply and pay for each multiple location that they intend to sell at. In San Francisco, they do.

Moreover, the information to obtain a food cart license is more centralized, instead of spread out across several different regulatory agencies — each with its own processing fees — as it is in San Francisco.

Portland as a model

In San Francisco, multiple city departments handle food cart permits, including the Department of Public Health, the Department of Public Works, the Fire Department and the Planning Department. The bureaucratic layers often make the process more confusing for first-time food cart operators such as Koji Kanematsu, who had to submit more paperwork and pay additional money for each of his food cart locations, he said. He spent $1,000 to $2,000 to get a permit and nearly $15,000 to build his cart.

“The permitting process was very challenging,” said Kanematsu, who started the Onigilly Cart, selling Japanese rice ball wraps, miso soup and edamame near the Civic Center and Fort Mason. “The food cart is like a mobile open-air cart, so the inspection process was very complicated.”

Here, small entrepreneurs who want a food cart must apply for a $764 Peddler and Pushcart permit through the Department of Public Works, file a $341 application with the Department of Public Health, pay inspection fees of up to $701.50 and if the cart has an open flame, hand over $674 to the San Francisco Fire Department.

The total for permits: $2480 and that is before the cost of the cart. One that meets the city’s standards costs approximately $5,000, according to Imelda Reyes, senior inspector for the mobile food facility program at the Department of Public Health. In Portland, it costs $830 and takes a few weeks for a full-fledged mobile food unit license.

Lizzy Canton, the founder of the blog Food Carts Portland, cites “flexible zoning” as the key to Portland’s bustling street food scene. Accessible and easy-to-navigate food cart laws are the main reasons Portland has so much success in street eats, she explained.

Likewise, Brett Burmeister, the current owner of Food Carts Portland, believes that Portland can be a model for other cities. Its famous food carts sell everything from reindeer sausage to kimchi quesadillas. They roam the city without many bureaucratic hurdles to jump over, he said.

“The regulations here have helped grow the scene,” said Burmeister. “Beyond that, Portland is a food town and encourages a DIY spirit. The food carts are a direct result of both of those. Multnomah County, the arbiter of health code, makes it easy and quick to license a mobile unit. The city is pretty hands off and has been hands off going on 30 years, allowing the health code to drive the growth.”

Stalled progress

While Portland has a freewheeling mobility, San Francisco’s rules make getting a permit difficult.

According to current regulations, for example, food carts in San Francisco are not allowed within 200 feet from the next closest mobile vendor or brick-and-mortar restaurant. They also cannot be 600 feet, or two blocks, within other businesses selling “the same type of food.” However, this definition is unclear and has been interpreted to mean anything from grocery stores selling similar products to corner shops selling everyday pre-packaged foods.

This confusion has caused disputes between food carts and brick-and-mortar restaurants that see them as unfair competition. According to Rahul Shah, a junior engineer at the Department of Public Works in charge of issuing the permits, many of the proposed food cart locations encroach on the territory of existing businesses who can object to any proposed food cart location and stall the application process.

“The way our legislation works is pretty strict,” said Shah. “We’ve seen about 50 percent approval rate [for pushcart permit applications]. But 95 percent get objections, most from existing business owners and restaurants owners.”

Last year, Supervisor Scott Wiener passed legislation that helped simplify the application process for food truck operators by creating a compromise between food trucks and already established brick-and-mortar restaurants. The legislation consolidated the number of department that food truck operators have to go through and loosened the rule that prevented food trucks from operating within 1,500 feet of middle and high schools.

However, the legislation did not affect those hoping to start a mobile food venture via pushcart.

Wiener said that his effort, which began three years ago, focused on food trucks.  “At the time, the need to reform the permitting for push cart operators was not raised as an immediate need.”

Andres Powers, a legislative aide, added that although the supervisor’s office is “always open to take on issues that there’s a desire to have addressed,” there simply has not been enough clamor around reforming food cart licensing in San Francisco.

“The program that we have in San Francisco is a good program that has support from a broad constituencies in terms of the food truck operators as well as neighborhood groups and local merchants, so at this point, we would not look into modeling our program after Portland, particularly given that we went through a long process with a lot of folks to come up with a proposal that is now in the books,” said Powers.

A “versatile, mobile” food cart

As the senior program manager at La Cocina, a nonprofit incubator kitchen that helps low-income immigrants launch food businesses, Geetika Agrawal views food carts as a “latent opportunity for the city” to nurture a more lively street food scene in San Francisco and provide more opportunities for small, start-up food businesses.

But the city’s various zoning restrictions still stand in the way. The pushback that mobile vendors receive from nearby brick-and-mortar restaurants “adds a layer of complexity” to the process, explains Agrawal, who grew up and traveled within India’s and Southeast Asia’s thriving street food cultures.

“If you don’t have versatility in what you sell out of it and don’t have a versatile amount of locations at which you can sell food out of your cart, then it all just becomes less valuable,” said Agrawal.

In Portland, the boom in food carts led to a working group in 1997 that created a specific set of guidelines for the maverick mobile vendors that popped up along Portland’s major thoroughfares. Before, they abided by strict rules designed for restaurants. Now, Portland has become a leader in mobile eats through the city’s more hands-off approach.

“We know that it expanded super rapidly, to a point where we have anywhere between 500 and 700 carts out there, but have no actual recent count,” said Steph Barnhart, events and marketing manager for Willamette Week, which puts on the Portland Eat Mobile Festival every year. “One thing that keeps the scene still vibrant, we think, is that several carts that are moving or re-opening or just plain opening are opening with the capability to serve beer.”

Agrawal of La Cocina said that in an easier world, she could see small-time entrepreneurs setting up shop and selling food virtually anywhere on San Francisco’s streets. She dreams of a “versatile, mobile delivery system” that would allow first-time food cart vendors to follow customers and easily expand their clientele.

“It would give an entrepreneur the opportunity to figure out where their market is, try different products, be able to monetize at different times of the day which you can’t do if you’re a truck or fixed brick-and-mortar,” said Agrawal. “How cool would it be on a sunny Sunday morning on Valencia Street, you could get a delicious chocolate-dipped banana?”

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