Street Food

On the Go-Go has a nice writeup on Bend’s growing "street food" scene—AKA food carts like hot dog stands and the like. King Weenie gets a mention, and Soupçon and Spork get several paragraphs. I had no idea street food could be so gourmet.

Soupçon’s daily lunch offerings change with the season. Current selections include curried pumpkin soup with coconut, chickpeas, and fresh basil, exotic mushroom and pearl barley with dried tomato gremolata, and Creamy Red Potato/Bacon/Corn Chowder with scallions and smoked paprika.

Spork’s offerings include Vietnamese caramel chicken served with a mint-sprout salad and extra fine jasmine rice, Korean BBQ pork belly tacos topped with house kimchi slaw, Thai style grilled Vegetable coconut green curry with fresh herbs, a bit of heat, and rice and crispy egg-leek salad with a lemon garlic thyme vinaigrette.

There’s also a mention of Blacksmith‘s Gavin McMichael’s latest plan, "The Street": a "centralized location for vendors in collaboration with several other food vendors in and around town". Located next to the Blacksmith, of course.

(Doesn’t the whole street food vendor concept work best when it’s decentralized? You know, spread out? Isn’t that more convenient to people over a wider area?)

15 thoughts on “Street Food

  1. Three or four cheap and good food options in one area to go to when you don’t know what you want, it needs to be fast, and it is good. Street vendors collect into one central area all the time to create more traffic for themselves. They market together, and work in a collaborative way. Everyone loves the market feel. Also, the cith of bend charges makes the guys move around so they cannot build up a solid business and a following over time. It is not fair to these guys. Plus they have to set up and pack up every day. Lot of challenges to make a few bucks. if they can work as a community, and to the diversity of a community, and create an energetic ecletic corner of town, that should be worth supporting. Plus, who doesn’t love street food?

  2. We have had a lot of success already. Our first test day we had 65 customers. Steve from Soupson says he is busier with us, than he was on his own. These guys do need our support. They get bullied by the city, and they have a hard time marketing on their own. I do not charge these guys rent, and I help market them, because I think it is important to support these grass roots efforts. They provide great food for a lot of people that are on a budget. There is a need. I am all about finding market niches, and I think this is one. People said I was crazy for doing the night club thing, but it filled a niche, and is very successful. If people are doubting my ideas for Street, I am probably on the right track.

  3. Yet another unsubstantinated shot at the city. From what I understand the street vendors need a permit, how is that getting "bullied by the city?"

  4. Question for Gavin, how much business do u expect for the street vendors when the weather turns in a couple weeks??

  5. By bullied, I mean, they are ask to not stay in the same spot. They have to keep moving. Their signage, and set up seemed to be under review quite often. There are very few place they are allowed to set up. The city has not been easy in the past to work with for foodservice people. I have had some experience with this. It is definitely better than it used to be, but I know some are still having frustrating experiences.

    As far as the weather goes we are looking at tenting our back parking lot so they can keep going. I do wish we had this idea earlier. Part of my reason for doing it is that I had found out how hard it was for these guys this summer, and I thought I could help make some of it for them by giving them a fixed area to work and help market them. Not really sure why some are against this.

    I am just trying create some more revenues for myself and others so people can keep hours and work. Not sure why people would be against this.
    But everyone has there own reasons. I would love to meet you at the blacksmith, and some great street food during lunch to discuss it.
    Shameless plug, I know.

  6. After reading all current comments, all I can say is that it’s only food!! We need food, we need good food, and more of it.and now more then ever we need to be creative in how we communicate. Everyone is getting pressed. Budgets are shrinking, people who have work are working harder, people who don’t have work are scrambling, bleak I know, but as a professional chef for the past 11 years, I’ve let the food I make speak for me and this is what I have to say. Value w/o compromise to quality and flavor, a strong and positive community presence through the relationship we all share with food and a sense of adventure! All these vendors mentioned are excellent cooks and chefs, they’re all speaking to us, let’s listen to them!!

  7. I like the idea of food carts/street vendors it is a affordable way to eat, hopefully showcasing more creative and diverse foods. It also gives the little guy a fighting chance without all the overhead and cost’s of doing a restaurant. The fact that Gavin is taking his approach to marketing this current trend…so be it, anyone else up to the task? It can go either way a guy alone on some random corner hoping business is good that day or a centrally located area that just so happens to be outside of a nightclub. Of course Gavin will benefit from this but so too will the guy’s slinging late night food to the partiers. Money is money.
    As for the city being bullies or any frustrating experiences that may be had, realize this it is a law to have permits in place, fees paid and everything up to code. I have found in the past the ODHS can be cool if you do your homework, ask them questions and even ask there opinions on certain matters before doing it. I wouldn’t even consider eating someones food that first and foremost has not been inspected and understands basic food prep and sanitation.
    Lastly, we need to keep in mind this is Bend not Tokyo, Singapore, N.Y.C. or even PDX. We don’t have a massive population of people but the people living here do deserve to have as many options to try new, ethnic, creative, diverse and affordable cuisine whether its eaten on the street or in a restaurant. Plus all of us cooking and doing the work necessary to provide good food deserve to have the support of the people and the city. Best of luck to those willing to take a chance.

  8. Here’s the facts On the Go-Go didn’t want to mention (they like to play nice which is…nice). The numbers speak for themselves.

    Value Comparison:
    900 Wall – Potato Leek Soup/Onion Soup-$9(12oz bowl)
    Summit/Downtowner – Homemade Soup/Chowder-$5(12oz+herb roll)
    Soupçon – All Homemade Soup-$5(16oz bowl, includes grilled cheese)

    Shocked over soup? Better sit down for this next one.

    Value Comparison:
    Typhoon! – Green Curry Entrée -$13.45(+$1.95 for Jasmine Rice)
    Toomies Thai – Green Curry -$12.95(+$1 to $2 for Rice)
    Spork – Grilled Veg/Coconut Green Curry -$6(Includes Jasmine Rice)

    It’s okay, Bend. You didn’t know any better.

  9. wow, the last comment was brilliant. first of all it is sooo very fantastic to get a great deal on anything these days but maybe go go was intelligent enough to know the difference between a street cart pricing and a restauarant’s pricing of food. first, you might want to sit down for this one bendy…restaurants pay almost 3 times as much for their health licence, they have kitchens with leases, they have taxes, they have payroll, real people bring your curry to you. they have dishes not made out of recycled potato products and plastic. they have advertising, property and business taxes, liquor licenses, signage fees. so before you get on your high horse to compare elephants to giraffes you should step back and remember, one is great soup under a tarp supporting one or two community members financially and one, maybe like 900 wall has an overhead that would choke your giraffe and supports 50plus employees and their families, could amount to at least 100 people. maybe go go had the savvy to exclude your comparison.

  10. Hey, I appreciate your argument. This makes a lot of sense and I’m glad we’re talking it over in this forum. The point I’m making, and the point made in the article, is that vendor food is worth a try. We get it, there’s a lot more overhead at Restaurants than at Food Carts, thats what makes the latter so fantastic–they’re able to offer high quality creative food much less expensively than restaurants. The trade-offs are easy to spot–no place to sit, plastic utensils, and eco-friendly to-go containers that tend to lack in the presentations prided by restaurants. Still, in a city that is very new to Vendors & street food culture, it’s worth a try. I’m not going after the popular local restaurants in town, just offering another option. Competition is good for everyone. Gavin and Scottie are both involved with Restaurants in town, and both have expressed that Carts can be good for budget-conscious Bend.

  11. We’re having a good time and turning out some tasty quality grub for cheap. Good stuff, yes? We’re stoked to see the Street thing happening and we like some Soupcon for sure! http://www.sporkbend.com is where you can find out what we’re doing … as well as where and when! Cheers!

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