Foodies rejoice. Tickets are now on sale for Willamette Week’s 2011 Eat Mobile Food Cart Festival to be held on April 23rd. A mere $15 gives you access to 40 food carts featuring diverse cuisines and styles. Now in it’s fourth year, Eat Mobile promises to be bigger and better than ever, and will showcase Portland’s enormous and diverse community of gourmands operating out of mobile carts.
Proceeds from the event will support Mercy Corps Northwest and our business development programs. Your admission will be an investment in what we do best: supporting local entrepreneurs. Just like the ones that will be serving up delicious treats for you at the festival. So mark your calendars and get ready for a righteous feast.
What Willamette Week has to say about Eat Mobile:
“With more than 400 food carts selling their tasty goods within our city limits, Portland has become a destination for mobile eats. In July, Portland was named the No. 1 street food city in the world by CNN Travel, and according to Gourmet.com, the Pacific Northwest is “doing for street food today what it did for coffee in the 1990s.”
With an annual attendance of over 2,000, Eat Mobile showcases the food, music and people that make Portland’s food scene so special. Part food festival, part cart competition, Eat Mobile allows attendees to sample from 40 of Willamette Week’s favorite food carts as vendors compete for the coveted Carty Award.”
- 808 Grinds
- Aybla Grill
- Brown Chicken Brown Cow
- The Baowry
- Bora Bora
- Crème de la Crème
- The Dump Truck
- Eat This!
- El Gallo Taqueria
- Emame’s Ethiopian Cuisine
- EuroTrash Food Cart
- Fifty Licks Ice Cream
- Garden State
- Happy Grillmore
- The Kettle Kitchen
- Kim Jong Grillin’
- KOi Fusion
- Leroy’s Familiar Vittles
- Nuevo Mexico
- Oregon Ice Works
- Over the Top Wild Game Burgers
- PDX 671
- Philippine Cuisine Food Cart
- Pizza Contadino
- Pyro Pizza
- Robb’s Really Good Food
- The Rolling Stoves Gimme Sandwich
- Sawasdee Thai
- Shut Up and Eat
- Slice Brick Oven Pizza
- SomTum Gai Yang
- Wet Hot Beef
- Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches Food Cart
Portland’s latest sensation in nonprofit small business lending has captured the attention and affections of some heavy-hitting business names.
In just 18 months, the Albina Opportunities Corp., working with such other groups as Mercy Corps [Northwest] and the Small Business Administration, has issued 15 loans ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. Its future loans will allow borrowers to collect up to $200,000.
The group, a nonprofit business development organization that provides smaller business entrepreneurs access to capital, averages about $83,000 per loan.
In 2005, I made a five year plan to own my own catering company. I graduated from culinary school in 2007. In 2008 a major incident of domestic violence left me a single mother of three boys. The struggling economy in 2009 led to the loss of my job as a catering chef. My five year plan seemed to come to a halt. I began to look at the food cart movement in Portland as an option to follow my dream in spite of my circumstances. After a good year of recipe development and market research, The Gaufre Gourmet was born!
Greatest Challenges: My greatest challenge is balancing work, family and school. Any startup business requires a lot of time, this proves for difficulty in daily scheduling. It is a great challenge to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time.
Greatest Reward: My biggest reward is the reaction I get when people try a waffle! Their eyebrows rise in a surprised excitement after they take a bite and then all I hear is mmmmmm! It is priceless.
Directed by Matthew Winthrop
Produced and Edited by New Sky Productions
More and more, individuals in Portland are looking to food carts as an inexpensive alternative to starting up a restaurant. Even with the lower start-up costs, however, food cart owners often need help getting the capital to start up. Mercy Corps Northwest is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs like these. We believe in supporting our local food industry, our local business owners, and in finding creative approaches to business and employment in a recession.
Name: Charlene Wesler
Business: The Gaufre Gourmet
Involved In: IDA Program, Foundations Class
What inspired you to get started with your business? I love food! The last eight years I have worked as a catering chef. A major event of domestic violence in 2008 left me a single mom of three kids. In early 2009 I lost my job. Finding another job in this economy proved difficult so I took the opportunity to enroll at PSU to finish my degree in business. It seemed like this was the time to follow my dream of owning my own business. This is the time and place for food carts, people love them! The potential was there for me to support my family while doing what I love, so most of this year I have spent perfecting my liege waffle recipe and developing the idea of a food cart as a way to create an income with a business that fit with my life and priorities. I hope to be a success story for other women in my position. A portion of my profits will be donated to a local domestic violence charity.
What stage are you at in the process?
My business plan is complete and I am in the process of completing the cart. Opening day will be late September or early October.
What’s been a recent success for you?
My most recent success has been acquiring a loan for the remaining startup costs.
What are you working on improving?
I am working on getting my name out there and educating people on the deliciousness of the leige style waffle!
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to seeing peoples smiling faces when they take a bite of these awesome waffles!
How can folks contact you about your work?
I can be reached at gaufregourmet [at] hotmail [dot] com
30 food carts, 1300 tickets, and so much delicious food. Thank you to Willamette Week for all their work planning, organizing, and running such a huge event. If you didn’t get a chance to make it out to this year’s event, they have an extensive rundown on their page with all the photos and reviews you could ask for. They even found a Craigslist Eat Mobile Missed Connection… aawww.
We also really liked PDXploration’s photos from the evening. We’ve got some of our own on Flickr… you can check out some of the intrepid Mercy Corps Northwest staff and our lovely booth. We loved getting to talk to Portland food cart lovers about the small business development work we do in Portland, and explain that mysterious connection between Willamette Week’s food cart festival and Mercy Corps Northwest. In case your hands were too full with beignets and poutine to grab one of our brochures, here’s the rundown:
What does Mercy Corps Northwest have to do with Portland’s food cart revolution?
In the current economy, food carts are an appealing alternative to hungry customers who want creative, high-quality dishes without paying restaurant prices. But what about the owners of these carts? How are they surviving the nation’s economic downturn?
More and more, individuals in Portland are looking to food carts as an inexpensive alternative to starting up a restaurant. Even with the lower start-up costs, however, food cart owners often need help getting the capital to start up. Mercy Corps Northwest is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs like these. We have worked with many food carts in the Portland metropolis, including three of the food carts featured at this year’s Eat Mobile festival: Tabor, Mono Malo, and SoupCycle. We believe, like you, in supporting our local food industry, our local business owners, and in finding creative approaches to business and employment in a recession.
A huge thank you to Willamette Week for organizing and sponsoring Eat Mobile, all the volunteers for helping to run it, and you for joining us today to support your fellow Oregonians and gourmands!
Viva la food cart!
Eat Mobile 2010 is officially sold out! It’s happening this Saturday, April 24th, from 5:30-9:30pm, and we are so excited!
We’ve got a whole bunch of eager and amazing volunteers who’ll be going from 1pm for set-up until 11:30pm for clean up, and doing everything in between from checking wristbands to busing tables.
We’ll also have SOLV at the event working with volunteers to help make sure the event stays clean and green by cleaning up litter afterward. And Mercy Corps Northwest will be tabling all that evening to tell you all about our programs and the work we do with food carts so you should come by to grab a brochure and chat (and bring us some samples!)
In other food cart news, Jennifer Lynch, who took our Foundations business planning program in January, just opened up her smoothie food cart on SW 3rd & Washington today! The Portland Smoothie Company serves all natural fruit smoothies and fresh juices using local and organic ingredients. Yum!