Home > Free Essays > Business > Company Information > Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects

Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects Research Paper

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Mar 23rd, 2022

Food carts in the Portland area has blossomed in recent years. It has become more than just a place to grab lunch from; it’s attracting tourists as this industry became a land mark in the area. History, popularity and its effect on the community will be examined in the paper, along with other vital aspects that make this business thriving.

What seems to be this new uprising of fast yet great tasting meals that you can find just about anywhere in heart of Portland? Well, let me tell you. The actual nickname for this is Cartopia which are a wide range of food carts all over the heart of Portland that provide fast yet very creative food with great amounts for cheap prices. You want something unique to try then the food carts is the place to go without having to spend an outrageous amount.

Food carts have come in different varieties from cultures to basics of food providing anywhere from breakfast to dinner (1 There are two different styles of carts mainly used which are either standing and sitting in the cart and serve the food through a window or by using all of the space in the cart for storage and to keep all of the cooking equipment such as a grilling surface).

These food carts have become very popular for students, business workers, tourists, and your everyday pedestrians. Food carts have become the new restaurant business, but now holding the title of fast food. In the Portland’s urban culture there is such a diverse range of food carts of more than (2 500 food carts, from loner to fully appointed conclaves).

Food carts have made quite the history all over the world ranging from the (3 Philippines, Canada, Europe, and the United States). People have used (4 motor less carts, mobile trucks, bicycles, and hand delivered their mobile catering business). The costs to keep these food carts running and also for rental space such as parking lots, sidewalks, and parks can be very little to nothing compared with an actual restaurant business.

Although, the profit may vary between food carts and restaurants upon popularity, cleanliness is most of all the excellent service provided to each customer. Many people have moved or live in Portland, no matter what the economy is like and how high the unemployment rate is, for the art, culture, opportunities, school, outdoor activities, but most of all the uproar of the food carts available around downtown.

A lot of young people that have moved to Portland from other states have become chefs at few of these food carts. As history is starting to proceed with this urban business of food carts, more and more will be opening into pods.

Portland has accumulated as much as 500 carts and is still growing. The history behind these increasing food carts in Portland has started as far back as 1980 where there was a single cart on Fifth and Stark Street in Portland. In 1987, there were only four cart spaces available to work with that 175 food carts were competing for as said in the 2001 report of The Oregonian.

Since then, the amount of food carts have been increasing rapidly with business and because of the competition there have been bidding wars of combined prices for food cart spaces. In this history of food carts there has been great competition and great benefit in profit for each business with many different varieties that are not only used in Portland but also around the world where most has originated from (Anon. 2010).

Most of these food carts in Portland have provided such a great amount of food for such little price. With the way the economy is, business this way in the food carts is providing excellent food for very little into people’s homes and also a great profit with customers wanting to come back for more. The food carts not only provide great amounts for great prices, but they also provide it all at a timely matter.

The maximum waiting period is generally about fifteen to thirty minutes when it is busy, but usually the waiting time is not very long at all which is very beneficial for the clients that are on lunch break from work or school or just simply in a hurry (Clark, 2011). Portland food carts are now the urban fast eats of fresh authentic everyday food which has made it easier for those who are constantly on the go.

Since the history of food carts, not only all over the world but also in Portland, community support has become an aide for these businesses to better their food cart businesses. Such community support consists of article reviews or internet websites that are specifically for the food carts where Portland’s residents can provide reviews, information that they learned from meeting the chef’s or owners of the food cart, or even to provide a simple menu of each food cart for people to go and experience for themselves.

One of the best internet websites that most people and companies use is foodcartsportland.com and provides a lot of insight, history, and good or bad experiences people have had with each cart along with the food and prices. With the community support, the food carts have built their reputation and respect, with that they have a larger profit and amount of customers to visit.

The community support has even let these food carts be heard, which have created popular activities through out the year that give out prizes such as free food for one whole year to teams that achieve or win the activity. Although some community support can be challenging, food carts can be more successful by listening to each critique given by a tourist or community supporter.

If a food cart can last until now (from 1987) then there is absolutely some sort of aide that has helped them and guided them through this new industry to have come this far and so far very successful. With community support along with the support of some other food carts, there has become such a wide and diverse range of authentic, fast, and low priced foods. For some students going to college, the food carts have provided some jobs during the summers as it has been needed.

New food carts that have come along are also helped by the community support and fellow food cart owners with advice and the how-to of the new urban food cart business that has had such a big boom since the 1980’s. The community support has gone as far as getting to know each individual that works in each food cart to find out the history of the food, about the people, and why the decided to live in Portland and start a business with a food cart.

Few of the food carts sometimes have some sort of association with restaurants. Although with history some foods have either originated or have gained its popularity from food carts, when people try new foods at food carts that become their favorite dishes, they then go to restaurants for the same dish to compare between the two. Most food carts have the best originality and authenticity put within their food and service.

Food carts have also become very creative with the way they serve and also by the looks and names of their carts. With more and more food carts becoming popular in the world and mainly in Portland, the Government, specifically in Portland, has set many regulations and costs in order for food carts to run and make a production off of the streets, parks, and parking lots.

Recently, the city officials have cracked down on food carts that have had illegal structures mainly in big pods. As the food cart industry is increasing city officials have to increase costs and regulate laws of distribution, safety, and cleanliness in order to keep the residents safe and the food cart businesses successful (Bao, 2008).

The food cart industry seems to be expanding in Portland on a daily basis. It has expanded in terms of number, geographical location, and public’s consciousness. When one walks along the streets of Portland during lunch time, he notices long lines of people waiting to be served.

This signifies a thriving food culture that is evident in Portland. Information regarding these carts is now accessible from food-cart blogs, websites and local and national media. A recent post has been made by the Willamette Week concerning an “Eat Mobile” event that was held to celebrate food cart culture in Portland.

More than 800 supporters attended the event where food was never enough. This is a symbol of how the food carts have become a favorite to many people in Portland. In January 2008, the (Urban Vitality) Group merged up with the “City of Portland, and the Bureau of Planning” to take on an exploratory study of Portland’s up-and-coming food cart industry (Bauer, 2010).

They carried out a research on the effects of food carts on neighborhood livability, and the industry’s potential to create beneficial entrepreneurial opportunities. The results of the research point out that food carts have remarkable community paybacks to vicinity livability by fostering social interactions, walk aptitude, and by providing temporary uses for unoccupied parcels.

Moreover, carts offer excellent employment prospects for refugees and low-income individuals to embark on their own businesses, even though there are noteworthy barriers to continuous steadiness and success. The City’s shore up of the food cart business can press forward the key community values and be of advantage to all Portlanders.

Just like in many cities, restaurants in downtown of Portland tend to offer cheap meals for the cubical paroles or act as expensive account places for the management. However, many people like to eat from the food carts which are distributed allover. In the last few decades, Portland has become famous for its many food carts.

These carts and trailers can be found in parking lots all over town, with concentrations at the corner of SW Stark Street and SW Fifth Avenue. Food carts bring into being positive effects on street liveliness and neighborhood life in densely populated downtown area.

Nonetheless, if a group of food carts is situated on a private area, the concentration of use can have depressing effects on the neighboring community, primarily because of lack of rubbish cans. On the other hand, food carts provide beneficial employment opportunities not only for the immigrants, but also the residents of Portland. They also provide an enhanced quality of life and encourage social relations between owners and customers.

Portland’s food carts provide a better and yet a cheap way to discover the cultural pastiche practiced in Portland. Through the delicious food carts, one can easily understand the culture of people living in Portland. These food carts have become semi permanent kitchens-on-wheels and are more often than not clustered together in pods.

Most of the owners are recent immigrants who cannot afford the high start-up cost to put up a restaurant. Prices offered in these food carts ranges from $5 to $6, although they can go up to $10 depending on the class and location. They observe high standards of hygiene and conform to the tight city regulations (Portland (Or.) 2008).

The City of Portland formerly lacked information concerning the food cart industry, as carts are not included in the City’s annual business inventory because of their temporary and mobile nature (Kelly, 2011).

The industry has also attracted young and educated chefs who are not employed. It has proved to be a viable business undertaking and many young chefs have become entrepreneurs. They now operate their own food carts and some are employed as chefs in some of the carts located in the city center. These food carts have played a very great role in reducing the unemployment rate that has been high for a long period of time. Some young people are now aspiring to be chefs after seeing the success in these businesses.

Food carts may fill up a slot for workforce expansion strategies to provide reasonable economic prospects, which is a key endeavor of the Portland Plan. The technical working group has identified the need to “ensure economic opportunity is available to a diversifying economy.”

Currently, cities across the nation are using street vending as a way to provide diverse, affordable, and quick food options. Municipalities can utilize food carts to achieve city goals, and some have attempted to reduce conflicts by restricting the presence of carts (Samson, 2010).

When taking into consideration how to deal with the daily administration of food carts, authorities can control them based on strictly-defined rules or more flexible principles. Areas of possible regulation can consist of the spatial locality of food carts, position and space distribution on a site, number of licenses accessible, categories of goods that can be put up for sale, and cart design.

While every jurisdiction handles street vending in a different way, the City of Portland’s strategy has persuaded the current development of carts on individual land, rather than on sidewalks (Mehta, 2007).

The cost of doing business assessment points to the dissimilarities in market-entry for push carts, motionless mobile carts, and small businesses. It without a doubt exhibits the complexity of moving from even a triumphant food cart into a more unwavering storefront. This is the reason why food carts have increased significantly in Portland. The start up cost as well as the cost of production for food carts is much less as compared to that of running a stable storefront or a restaurant.

Many people argue about the future of the food carts; whether they will continue or they will be curtailed. With the current state of the economy and the rate that Portland is receiving new immigrants who are not economically stable, it is clear that the food cart industry will continue to operate in Portland for the immediate future. Nevertheless, devoid of some extent of preparation for the future of carts, the communal benefits and micro-enterprise opening they make available may be reduced, or even lost.

The market for land that can be used for the development of food carts greatly influences food carts’ viability, and dictates how and where food carts can tolerate unless inventive strategies are engaged to ascertain new ways to amalgamate them into the urban fabric of Portland (Burningham, 2010). Alternatively, over-regulating food carts can considerably reduce the community and economic benefits they provide.

As the city grows and the market circumstances that have made it uncomplicated for food carts locating on facade parking lots begin to transform, the City should distinguish extra locations where food carts can maneuver. Provide space for food carts in existing publicly owned locations and reflect on carts in projects presently under development.

Food carts promote (small scale) entrepreneurs (Shinn, 2010). Some instances of accessible or anticipated sites where food carts possibly will be situated include: city parks, the downtown bus mall, MAX stops and transportation centers, park and ride facilities.

From the above analysis, it is clear that food carts have become a popular business undertaking for many people in Portland. There are over five hundred food carts and this is an indication of how the business has grown at a very high rate. This type of business has only been realized recently and it is already bombing in many cities. Portland can be classified as one of the cities where this business has grown substantially.

It has become a preferred place for all types of people including students and office walkers. The meals are delicious and are offered at an affordable place making it easy for virtually everyone to afford. Most of the food carts are located in downtown area where the environment is good and there is fresh air. They have created many job opportunities for the young people and have even attracted many young chefs.

The future of the food carts in Portland is promising although a lot of things have to be put in place. The government has to take part in the expansion of the business by creating other suitable locations. It can also help young entrepreneurs with the start up costs in case they are stuck. This is because food carts have had a significant impact in the economy of Portland and they seem to have more contribution in future. Food carts may perhaps enlarge the availability of food to low-income neighborhoods, which might be short of grocery stores.

Reference List

Anon. (2010). Portland food carts- . Web.

Bauer, M. (2010). . Web.

Bao, S. (2008). Washington, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Lonely planet Travel Guides Regional Guide Series. New York: Lonely Planet.

Burningham, L. (2010). Portland Food Carts Push Through Recession. Web.

Clark, J. (2011). . The food carts in this Oregon town are more like mobile gourmet kitchens. Web.

Kelly, (2011). This Just In! You can now find cartopia at… Web.

Mehta, V. (2007). Lively Streets: determining environmental characteristics to support social behavior. Journal of Planning Education and Research 27: 165-187.

Portland (Or.) (2008). Charter and general ordinances of the City of Portland, Oregon: in force. The New York: Public Library.

Samson, K. (2010). Frommer’s Portable Portland. Volume 234 of Frommer’s portable. Frommer’s.

Shinn, L. (2010). Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver. New York: ParentMap.

This research paper on Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2022, March 23). Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/


IvyPanda. (2022, March 23). Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/

Work Cited

"Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects." IvyPanda, 23 Mar. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/.

1. IvyPanda. "Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/.


IvyPanda. "Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/.


IvyPanda. 2022. "Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects." March 23, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cartopia-in-portland/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'Portland Food Carts Popularity and Effects'. 23 March.

Powered by CiteTotal, online bibliography tool
More related papers