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Tigard Food Cart Wednesdays prove popular

Program aims to spread word about new city policies

RUDY OWENS - A line forms outside a food truck at Tigard City Hall earlier this month.Got any plans for lunch?

Starting this month, Tigard residents are getting the chance to try something a little different for their mid-day meal: the chance to stop by a Portland-style food truck.

Throughout April, food carts will be stopping by City Hall on Wednesdays, offering locals a chance for a quick lunch without the need to drive.

The trucks began coming to City Hall last Wednesday, and Lloyd Purdy, the city’s economic development manager, said that after just two weeks, the project is already becoming popular. “We saw employees from office parks down the street stop by. We had visitors stop by from out of town. The first one was highly successful,” Purdy said. “People are invited out of their offices to take a walk and have lunch.”

The food trucks are part of a new program by the city, aimed at encouraging food trucks to move to Tigard.

Tigard is home to scant few food carts right now. Jeka’s Barbecue on Pacific Highway and Hot Diggity Dog on Southwest Sequoia Parkway are two of the most visible, but Tigard’s city code has been silent on how to treat food carts for years, Purdy said.

The city updated its policies to make it clearer how food carts could operate within the city. For the most part, they’re welcome, Purdy said, but with a few strict guidelines.

Food trucks and carts must be mobile, parked on paved surfaces and operate in parts of town zoned for business. They must have wheels, and can’t require water or sewer lines.

Purdy said that the new policies are the start of a conversation about accepting more food carts into town. Some locals have expressed an interest in opening food cart pods around town, Purdy said, though those talks are preliminary.

“This is a first step,” Purdy said. “How do we open the door to the entrepreneurial food scene that we see in Portland and bring that to the suburbs?”

Beaverton has been studying food carts for some time and is working to bring pods of carts to that city.

Purdy said that the food truck project at City Hall is meant to set an example.

“It shows property owners in Tigard how they could do a good cart or pod on their property,” Purdy said.

Tigard may not have many food carts to its name now, but it’s already an important part of the food cart food chain. Several food carts operate commercial kitchens in Tigard, cooking their food before hitting the open road.

“It brings a restaurant option to office parks that don’t have ready access to restaurants,” Purdy said. “In suburbs, we’ve traditionally zoned restaurants separately from the industrial and manufacturing areas. This blends those activities together.”

One food truck or cart will be at City Hall every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 27, though the program may continue if it proves popular enough.

— April 6: Home Plate Sliders

— April 13: El Taco Yucateco (Mexican)

— April 20: Gourmet on the Go (comfort food)

— April 27: The Dump Truck (Chinese dumplings)