Moto Cafe Pivots from Venue to Carts

Moto PDX Cafe could soon host up to eight food carts placed in its front parking lot at 8826 SE Stark Street. This next phase of supplemental business activity will follow a brief closure as staff remove the soundproofing recently added to the large glass windows at the front of the single-story building. The business owner installed that sound-deadening material in an attempt to contain the dance music played within. However, continued noise complaints encouraged him to abandon his ambitions for a local music venue and re-evaluate what business activity would work well for the surrounding community.

Moto PDX Cafe opened as a motorcycle-racing-themed restaurant and cafe in December 2021. Launching a new food service business during an already difficult time for restaurants hampered early growth, and cafe owner Brendan Jones looked for ways to supplement income for his young eatery. “Coming out of the pandemic after a less than stellar performance with the cafe, which has been very difficult, I was thinking we could get folks out to enjoy music events,” explained Jones. The initial performances were successful, and dance music during the evening hours was a growth area for the cafe. “That seemed to be going OK, and then I had someone approach me from the neighborhood.” A person living near the storefront could hear the music and felt it was louder than they liked. Jones proceeded to soundproof the front of the building around the beginning of the year in an attempt to contain the music. “The problem with sound is that it’s more art than science,” said Jones, and his attempts to block the noise seemed more challenging than expected.

After considerable expense and repeated attempts, Jones felt he had contained the dance music to the premises. After applying a new layer of foam material, he began playing music and walked the surrounding blocks to see how far one could hear anything. Feeling confident that his adjustments to the building worked and that he was not likely to disturb the neighbors, he continued to operate the dance venue. However, despite his efforts, the person returned with another notice about the excessive volume. Eventually, an official complaint came in, and Jones did not want to continue to press the issues. “The city notified me, and I didn’t wanna disturb the neighborhood, so we just stopped,” said Jones. “It’s not as if we were doing it to be jerks.”

Jones is always ready to adapt his business to meet demand, and food cart service has been an option for the property since he bought the building. With an end to the dance music, Jones felt it was time to move to the next phase. After reopening, Moto PDX Cafe will continue operating its full bar and offering a select menu. Jones has changed out the cafe’s food items several times since launching, and it now provides a small number of vegan/vegetarian options. Food carts will substantially expand the variety of cuisine while drawing more people in for adult beverages and coffee drinks. Jones acknowledges Montavilla has several food cart pods in the area but feels this space has an advantage. “I think one of the benefits of having the building in the rear is that during winter, it’ll be nice and warm and cozy.” Food cart patrons can enjoy their meals indoors with heat and restrooms while having access to a wide variety of drinks. Additionally, Jones sees the Stark Street space as nicely situated for patrons east of 82nd Avenue.

Expect Moto PDX Cafe to remain closed as they work on the property. The space will reopen after the cart tenants begin operation at the location. Food cart vendors can fill out a contact form at the cafe’s website to reserve a space or review terms.

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