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The city's first cluster of mobile food servers likely won't open right away.



TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - John Robinson, owner of the Batter Up! waffle cart at The Eating Place at Aloha Mall food cart pod, is pleased that Beaverton soon will allow similar groups of mobile restaurants.Evan Taggart of Beaverton and his son, Sean, stopped by The Eating Place at Aloha Mall last week to see what food cart pods are all about.

“I like the variety,” Taggart said. “You can kind of pick and choose.”

“In this kind of weather, I would think people like to eat outside,” added 9-year-old Sean.

The Taggarts eventually will be able to sup a la cart closer to home.

Just a few days earlier, the Beaverton City Council took another step toward allowing similar groups of mobile food servers to cluster into pods, joining unincorporated Washington County, Portland and other jurisdictions embracing the quirky and increasingly popular dining destinations.

The council on July 14 finally got its hands on city code revisions that had worked in fits and starts through the planning process, and seemed eager to let the pods into the city.

Following procedure, the council members gave a first reading of an ordinance laying new ground rules that would allow the pods under a new set of standards (see related story). A second reading will follow next month and the ordinance is expected to take effect in mid-September.

Property owners can start applying to open food cart pods at that time, but it could take them several more months to prepare a site. Also, food carts tend to do better business in nicer weather. Those factors might push the opening of Beaverton’s first pod well into next year, city staffers have said.

Back at Aloha’s food cart pod, tucked behind the Aloha Mall and Little Caesars Pizza, Jenny Saldanas said she was excited about Beaverton’s policy change.

“We would definitely consider expanding to Beaverton,” Saldanas said between serving plates full of fish tacos and shrimp ceviche from her Cocino Mexico Lindo food cart.

Actually, one of the family’s three mobile kitchens does make regular stops in Beaverton, but those stops are temporary and solitary under the city’s current rules.

“The pod idea is fabulous,” she said.

Scott Santrizos’ family cart, Cafe Diva Dogs, was one of a seven parked at the pod on a recent hot afternoon.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Diners belly up for a bite at Cafe Diva Dogs and a half dozen other mobile restaurants at The Eating Place at Aloha Mall. Beaverton soon will allow similar food cart pods.
“It’s refreshing to hear they are going to make it less stringent,” said Santrizos, whose family operated the business at a Home Depot before joining the Aloha pod several months ago.

Santrizos agreed with city officials that carts offer a way for entrepreneurs to start a restaurant without a massive expense.

“There’s a lot less overhead for a small business to operate,” Santrizos said.

“I’ve always thought Beaverton’s a good market,” said John Robinson, who sells waffles and waffle sandwiches from Batter Up! “If I get a second cart, it would probably be in Beaverton.”

While the food cart phenomenon used to scare traditional restaurants, many businesses have found the pods actually attract new customers rather than steal them away. Opposition has faded over the years among businesses and customers can’t seem to get enough.

Former area resident Matt Messier now lives in Minneapolis but ate at the Aloha pod multiple times during a recent visit.

“It’s food I can’t get anywhere else,” he said.

His lunch mate, Andrea Runde, lives in Beaverton and was glad to hear her city soon will offer some of that variety.

“Might as well follow the trends,” she said. “I don’t see why not. People really like them.”

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Beaverton residents currently have to travel a few miles to somewhere like The Eating Place at Aloha Mall for the food cart pod experience. That should change as the Beaverton City Council works to amend city codes to permit groups of mobile restaurants in the city.


By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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