By Ellen Spitaleri
Food carts were always part of Katie Proctor’s plan for the parking lot at 1401 SE Division St. when she bought Books with Pictures three years ago. “I wanted to bring more thriving businesses into the space to activate the corner and create a destination on this part of Division,” she said.
When she chose the four carts to occupy the space, it was important to her to have a range of different foods that suited people’s dietary needs. “I’m enormously proud of what we are building here,” Proctor said.
The four carts are Honeycuspe, LoveABowl, Ramblin’ Rose Vegan Ice Cream and Underbite. All four cart owners said they love the location of the pod near Ladd’s Addition and the Ford District. They also welcome the camaraderie of the other cart owners and they all appreciate good food and using food to bring smiles to customers’ faces.
“It was imperative that our menu be colorful, creative, delicious and that we offered sweet and savory options with equal emphasis in both categories; waffles were the perfect canvas for this,” said Eric Beaudoin, owner of Honeycuspe. Although the name of the cart is a made-up word, the waffles are authentic Belgian waffles, made on a giant waffle oven imported from Belgium. “The waffles themselves are very light, crispy on the outside and packed with porous caverns of soft dough on the inside,” Beaudoin said.
Customer favorites include the breakfast waffle topped with two soft-fried eggs, sharp cheddar and choice of sausage; the Avalon Clair waffle topped with lavender cream cheese sauce, lemon curd, fresh whipped cream and poppyseed; and the pavé breakfast potatoes. Beaudoin said being a food cart owner gives him “the creative freedom to explore whatever is asking to be brought to life.”
Honeycuspe is open 9 am-4 pm Wednesday-Monday. Closed Tuesday.
Owner Sarah Esterbrook said she “played around with bowl phrases like ‘load a bowl’ or ‘pack a bowl’ and ultimately came up with LoveABowl, a play on the word lovable.” Best-selling menu items include oxtails made with a house blend of Caribbean spices; pozole, a Mexican stew; and the rose bowl, made with jasmine rice, quinoa, black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, pepitas and salsa. She noted that she uses locally produced HAB sauce, Shirley Temple soda and Portland Microgreens.
Esterbrook cooked in Portland restaurants for years, but with the pandemic found herself working in food carts, as they were the main food businesses that remained open. “I worked hard and saved up enough money to eventually start my own. I love the freedom to create and most of all I love to feed people,” she said.
Hours are 2-8 pm Thursday-Friday and 12-8 pm on Saturday-Sunday.
Ramblin’ Rose Vegan Ice Cream
Owner Mary Allen said she named her food cart after a Grateful Dead song, but it also seemed to be an appropriate name given that Portland is the Rose City and she wanted to incorporate flowers into her ice cream. “I wanted it to be vegan and gluten free so that everyone could enjoy it,” she added.
Customer favorites are soft serve and the BCS caramel scoops, which is brown coconut sugar ice cream with ripples of coconut sugar caramel. “My soft serve flavors change about every two weeks and I incorporate a lot of seasonal fruits,” Allen said.
She always saw herself being a pastry chef at a restaurant or bakery, but when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to put her energy into this food cart. “I love ice cream and I love meeting people and creating personalized desserts that everyone can enjoy.”
Her hours are 3-8 pm Wednesday and 2-8 pm Thursday-Sunday.
The name of this cart was inspired by his dog’s underbite, owner Torrance Lydem said, adding that incorporating “bite” into the name was a good play on words for a food cart. Lydem has been in the food industry his whole working life and over the last 15 years worked in the assisted-living industry, where he became known for his variety of soups. When he decided to open his own business, he knew he wanted to feature his soups, but knew he would need to offer sandwiches as well.
“The bestseller sandwich is the BLT-ish. If customers order a soup and sandwich combo, it’s probably the grilled cheese and tomato orange soup,” Lydem said. His menu works well for lunch and dinner for families, he said, adding that his children attended nearby Abernethy Elementary.
All his to-go containers, wraps and utensils are recyclable or compostable; he doesn’t use plastic for his packaging and strives to source his ingredients locally.
Hours are 11 am-7 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 11 am-8 pm Friday-Saturday and 11 am-6 pm Sunday.
Photo of food cart owners, (from left) Torrence Lydem, Sarah Esterbrook, Mary Allen and Eric Beaudoin, take a break between customers by Ellen Spitaleri.