Tag: Erica Montgomery

Food Carts on the Move

Portland’s food carts tend to stay in one place, causing patrons to forget that they have wheels. However, these mobile kitchens can change locations, and at least two local carts are on the move early next year. Although these popular dining destinations are heading out of Montavilla, they are still a short trip away.

In an Oregonian interview released last week, Erica Montgomery revealed that Erica’s Soul Food would be moving from the space next to Henry’s Market at 803 SE 82nd Avenue. “Early next year, Montgomery plans to transport her truck to the courtyard next to Lottie & Zula’s, a New England style sandwich shop in the former Toro Bravo space at 120 N.E. Russell St.” The new location is just under six miles away, near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Erica’s Soul Food will share an outdoor dining space with Lottie & Zula’s at the new site. This move appears to be the next phase of a strengthening relationship between the two ventures. Lottie & Zula’s co-owner frequents Montgomery’s cart, admiring her cooking and work ethic. This year, both restaurants collaborated on a meatloaf sandwich sold as a fundraiser for Equitable Giving Circle. Later, Montgomery used the restaurant’s larger kitchen for a catering event when it exceeded the cart’s capacity. 

Just down 82nd Ave from Erica’s, La Taquiza Vegana is leaving the food cart pod at 8220 NE Davis Street. As one of the original carts from The Yard at Montavilla’s opening this summer, its time in the area was short-lived. Devyn Marie, Co-Owner and Operations Manager for La Taquiza Vegana, explained that they only planned to stay in the old location for five months. “The Yard was always just a temporary spot for us while we waited for our permanent location to be completed.” They are relocating to a new food cart pod at 2216 SE 50th Ave. Although the owners appreciated the community in the neighborhood, Marie said the team wanted to work closer to the city center. “We really enjoyed being a part of the Montavilla neighborhood for the short time we were there. The location is just too far out for us as we like to be more centrally located.”

The loss of these two neighborhood carts will likely disappoint some customers, particularly area vegans. La Taquiza Vegana only serves vegan foods. Erica’s Soul Food offers an extensive vegan menu and standard options. The other vegan food cart located at the Yard, Little Ethiopia Eatery, closed down permanently last October. With these two carts’ departure, there are very few vegan cart options in the area.

The exciting part of food cart culture is the constant change in options. People create new dining experiences, and customers rarely have the chance to become bored with the selections. Although these moves may disrupt some customer behavior, dedicated patrons will seek them out. Look for something new to arrive at the soon-to-be-vacant cart locations and visit some old friends when they settle in their new homes. 

New Cart for Erica’s Soul Food

Erica’s Soul Food has moved into a new food cart just one year after opening. Located at 803 SE 82nd Ave, work is underway preparing the new eatery for an expected Wednesday reopening. The upgraded facilities will enhance kitchen operations and customer service for the young business, driving further growth.

The owner and chef of Erica’s Soul Food, Erica Montgomery, has been patiently waiting for the new cart’s arrival. The delivery date slipped several times, creating a longer than expected closure for the business. Ultimately the wait will be worth it when the popular takeout location reopens. Erica’s needed larger space and modern equipment to serve the increasing number of customers. “I’ll have bigger, new equipment that will make cooking easier,” explained Montgomery. The expanded kitchen capacity will facilitate an expanded menu and added specials.

Beyond streamlined food prep, the new cart has separate windows for ordering and pickup. The divided customer interactions, along with a new contactless payment system, will better facilitate COVID-19 precautions. Additionally, new exterior lighting on the cart will improve customer comfort during nighttime hours.

Obtaining a new cart required some community support. Part of the downpayment for the cart came from a GoFundMe campaign that secured two-thirds of its goal. A donation from the Portland Trailblazers added the final funding that Erica’s needed to place an order with the custom cart builder. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my community,” acknowledged Montgomery when reflecting on the support received.

Now the rush is on to move into the new cart and restock all the supplies. Montgomery cautioned that the 10th is only a tentative opening date. However, she is eager to reopen and get back to cooking for her many loyal customers. Keep an eye on Erica’s Instagram account for updates.

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