By Steven Shomler
The History Press, $19.99, 208 pages
Steven Sholmer has collected the stories of 30 food carts – a phenomenon synonymous with Portland culture – in his book, Portland Food Card Stories. The book includes stories about iconic food carts and their owners, stories from those who have moved to Portland to open a food cart, and carts that serve niche food from around the world. Shomler also explains the difference between a food cart and a food truck (an important distinction), as well as the concept of food cart pods. The most important nugget that Shomler shares in his book is how serious each one of these entrepreneurs really is about their food carts and its success.
“Most people don’t realize that each and every food cart is a small business and, in the beginning, a start up.”
Cart owners all have insatiable passion about what they are doing, but Shomler reminds the reader that in the end, food carts are small-businesses. The carts require long hours, hard work and aggressive marketing. Interspersed between the sections are food writers’ perspectives, which adds another interesting layer to this book. Shomler shares fascinating stories of each carts’ beginning and evolution. He advises readers about what to eat from different carts, and to keep an eye out on food cart owners dreaming of their next step. Portland Food Cart Stories tells the stories of starting a small business in the food industry and highlights the dreams that made each food cart a reality.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff