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Beaverton has 25,000 reasons to start food cart pod

Even without city's $25,000 matching grant, close-in pod could arrive in May

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kent Drangsholt showed off the parking lot off Southwest Western Avenue where he still hopes to open Beaverton's first food cart pod. But he said recently that he first will open one on Walker Road just outside the city limits due to county requirements that are less restrictive and less costly than the city's rules.You’re not the only one salivating over the prospect of food cart pods in Beaverton.

To spur economic development, officials have decided to put $25,000 on the table to make it happen.

Beaverton development officials on Tuesday officially launched its Food Cart Pod Grant Competition aimed at a potential food cart pod operator or interested landowner.

They hope some cold hard cash will heat up interest to open the first food cart pod inside the city after officials last year rewrote the rules to allow the portable restaurants to gather in semi-permanent spots. It is modeled after a similar grant program to kick-start other kinds of development.

Even without the competition, a close-in food cart pod could open in less than a month.

Beaverton residents, employees and business people for years have expressed interest in having more food carts to add diverse and local dining options, especially in the downtown core.

Besides the competition, the city also next week will host a Mayor’s Developer Roundtable session on opening a food cart pod, with speakers including pod managers, local government representatives and Bo Kwon, founder of the successful Koi Fusion carts.

The roundtable begins with coffee and networking at 7:30 a.m. before an hour-long program starts at 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, in the first-floor council chambers at The Beaverton Building, 12725 S.W. Millikan Way. Attendees are asked to RSVP through the city’s website.

Kent Drangsholt, who earlier this year announced plans to open the city’s first pod outside of his The Garage Sale Warehouse business on Southwest Western Avenue, plans to be one of those in attendance at the roundtable. And he might be among competitors for the grant to get the Western Avenue pod off the ground.

But Drangsholt also said last week that he’s not waiting for grant money to open what would be the closest food cart pod to the middle of Beaverton.

But instead of on Western Avenue, Drangsholt said his first pod will be located with his second The Garage Sale Warehouse location on Southwest Walker Road, in the former Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts just east of Cedar Hills Boulevard – and just steps outside the city limits.

Drangsholt said he has carts lined up for the Walker Road site that will serve hamburgers and hot dogs, sushi, bubble tea and waffles and crepes. He is fielding interest for a fifth and final slot, he added. He expects to open in early May.

Rules to set up food carts in unincorporated areas of Washington County are less restrictive than Beaverton’s requirements, making development of a pod far less costly, Drangsholt said. He said a contractor quoted him $80,000 to complete the improvements mandated by city rules for his Western Avenue property, while he can set up a similar experience for customers at the Walker Road site for about $9,000.

“There are ways to do this for less, and I’m going to pursue that with the city,” he said. “I want to do this because it’s good for Beaverton, it’s good for my business, it’s good for the neighborhood.”

The competition, with applications due by 5 p.m. June 10, would provide up to $25,000 in grant money to reimburse a food cart pod developer for qualifying expenses to set up the business. Reimbursable costs might include pre-development “soft” costs related to planning as well as actual construction, said Janiene Lambert, a senior development project manager for the city.

The contest rules also require that the winning food cart pod be located inside the city’s designated Urban Renewal Area, a large area that includes much of the city’s older commercial and employment areas.

Additional rules and map of qualifying area are included in the competition application, also available on the city’s website.

Lambert said city officials would like to see veteran food cart pod operators apply for the competition.

“That would be ideal,” she said. “Not mandated, but ideal.”

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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