Opinion: Beacon Hill needs a portable food revolution

Food stands in Portland; could we have this here? Photo by Joel Lee.
by Joel Lee

I’ve always admired Portland’s funky attitude towards street food vendors. What was years ago a smattering of taco trucks and falafel vendors, has grown into entire streets filled with every imaginable variety of food being served from every imaginable type of food wagon. Working in downtown Portland means having your choice between dozens of street vendors during lunchtime.

Since returning from my recent trip to Portland I’ve been dreaming of seeing more of this in Seattle. Besides my own selfish desires for more food selection, it’s also a perfect building block for a strong local economy. It does not take nearly as much money to start up a food cart as it would to open a restaurant, and it does not involve nearly as much risk—these types of small businesses are the front lines in a recovering economy.

I would love it if the area around our light rail station would develop into an area where street vendors would become more welcome and small business entrepreneurs would be given the time, community support, and space to try new types of businesses. As an added bonus this would give us a multi-ethnic gathering place, build community, and enliven ‘downtown’ Beacon Hill.

Joel Lee maintains the Beacon Hill Public Art website.

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Another Portland food stand. Photo by Joel.

15 thoughts on “Opinion: Beacon Hill needs a portable food revolution”

  1. Yes! I couldn’t agree more with this post, particularly the start-up cost, and the appeal of this type of food option. Portland is showing that food carts can provide a variety of appealing options from very affordable to gourmet, without any negative impact on the neighborhoods that I can see. Beacon Hill is well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity due to its diverse residents.

  2. I’ve talked to the guy who runs the Falafal truck in Georgetown, and this is his dream too. He actually apparently considered moving to Portland, but ended up deciding to stick around in hopes that a food truck culture gets started here someday.

    Fingers crossed!

  3. I love it!! This would be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood that celebrates our different cultures :)

    Thanks Joel!

  4. The City has already started to roll back health codes and restrictions, so we will slowly start to see a return of street vendors. I would love nothing more.

  5. I just got back from Charleston SC where they have special parking spaces spread throughout the city just for street vendors. How great would that be?

  6. That is cool!

    That also reminds me, in London, that there was a street just south of the Thames that had booth spaces marked off — every Friday they had a fair there. I think it had a rotating theme that varied from week to week. The week we were there, the theme was France, so there were sellers selling French cheeses and soaps and other French goods. But other weeks they would have different vendors there.

    The rest of the week there were normal parking spaces along the road, and it just looked like any other street, but on Fridays it was a market. We don’t even need a festival street to do things like that!

  7. Sweet Treats in April & I’m due in May! Wishes really do come true! I can pretend like the walk to the truck counts as a workout and order two yummy things.

    Speaking of sweet things…where are all the Girl Scouts?

  8. Thanks for the link, Joel.

    It would be great if Seattle had a similar blog/website. Especially if there was some sort of attached map to let me know what was in the neighborhood that day.

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