Tag: Food Cart

Sebastiano’s in More Places

Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli is venturing outside the four walls of its storefront at 411 SE 81st Ave. Starting this Friday night, the restaurant will open Aperitivo Sebastiano within a food cart located in the back parking lot behind the shop. This endeavor joins Sebastiano’s inaugural participation in the Montavilla Farmers Market last Sunday. Both new locations feature unique menu items and serve expanded tastes.

Many restaurants use food trucks to spread out to new locations, but co-owners of Sebastiano’s, Elise and Daniel Gold, are taking a different approach. Their food truck is parked behind the original restaurant, enhancing that location instead of transporting the business elsewhere. “Months ago, having no sense on where things would be at with covid, we came up with the idea of a food cart for summer. As a way to continue to grow but do it outside”, explained Daniel Gold. Traditionally, the deli serves the lunchtime crowd. By adding the food truck, customers can now enjoy a pre-dinner appetizer and drink on select nights. In Italy, an aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet the appetite. This cultural tradition is the concept driving Aperitivo Sebastiano’s menu. Customers can start their night at the cart and then move on to dinner at another Montavilla eatery.

According to Gold, the food truck’s kitchen opens up a host of culinary options for the nighttime menu. “We’re pretty excited to be able to offer more types of food, essentially because now we have a full kitchen. We have fryers, we have a grill, we have four burners, more refrigeration, and the space for a cook to work safely.” The Golds optimized the restaurant’s existing food-prep for a deli operation, making the most out of limited space. Baking and pan-based cooking dominate that workflow as most menu items rely on cured protein ingredients.

Daniel Gold believes that the Italian doughnuts will become a favorite item at the cart, and that is not something that they could have created without the complete kitchen out-back. The food truck’s fryer supports a focus on Sicilian street food, a cuisine that favors fried foods. Beyond sweets, the menu will offer Arancini (stuffed and fried risotto balls), Zeppole, and House-pulled fresh Mozzarella. As the summer progresses, the expanded kitchen will allow for experimentation in the menu. Vegetarian and Vegan options are prime areas that Gold wants to expand on.

Up to this point, Sebastiano’s has offered takeout only, except for reserved group events last summer. Now outdoor seating around the truck lets customers stop in and order food and drinks to enjoy onsite. They will serve wine by the glass, Spritz, Rosato (Italian rose wine), and some nonalcoholic cocktails. The tables will be open during Aperitivo Sebastiano’s hours of 3 PM through 6 PM on Friday and Saturday nights, with post Farmers Market service on Sundays from 2 PM to 5 PM. Customers can also order items to go and bring them over to Threshold Brewing and Montavilla Brew Works seating area.

The collaboration with other Montavilla businesses is core to Sebastiano’s operation. All beer sold there is from local breweries. Sourcing within the neighborhood for foods and beverages is essential to the Golds. That is what brought them to the Montavilla Farmers Market, first as buyers for their seasonal dishes and now as vendors.

Only one weekend in, the farmers market booth has already proven worthwhile for Daniel Gold. “We’re super excited and had an incredible first day at the Montavilla Farmers Market.” Just as with the food truck, some menu items are locations specific. Sebastiano’s staff bake Castelvetrano olive focaccia exclusivly for the farmers market. The market menu items feature favorite Sebastiano’s food like orange marmalade, sweet and savory brioche rolls, and a “tremendous amount” of Sicilian cookies. The Golds sold out within an hour and a half of opening at the market. They are going to double their efforts for next Sunday.

Elise and Daniel Gold

The farmers market project is pure fun for Golds. “It’s really a lovely end of our week to be outside and to be with our community and seeing a bunch of people that we now know,” said Daniel Gold. Sebastiano’s will keep a booth at the market at least through October. That coincides with the end of their food truck lease. At that point, they will reassess and see if customers enjoyed the expanded options.

The Golds started Sebastiano’s at the beginning of the pandemic. That challenge forced the couple to adjust their plans and create new ways of engaging customers. This summer, the Golds and their staff continue to push forward, with new ways to serve residents who are venturing out after an extended stay at home. Stop by behind the shop any post-work-week night for a pre-dinner visit, have lunch at the original shop on Thursday-Saturday, or wave hello at the farmers market. They would love to see you at any of their many places.

Amanda Morales at the Aperitivo Sebastiano window

Images courtesy of Sebastiano’s Sicilian Deli

UPDATED May 10th 2021 – adjusted hours listed in article to reflect a change and corrected spelling of menu item.

82nd Food Cart Pod Construction

Demolition crews began work clearing the property that will soon become The Yard At Montavilla. Heavy equipment removed two foundations and other buried remnants from the two houses that once occupied this location. With the ground cleared, work can start on Montavilla’s newest food cart pod.

Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the future food cart pod is across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary. When completed, the site will host 17 food carts. Owners Jeffrey and Kevin Dennis have many of those spaces leased already. The Dennis brothers faced an unexpected wait as the pandemic slowed the permitting process. However, those delays are behind the project, and work should complete within three to four months.

Montavilla lost a cluster of food carts with the demolition of Beets Auto BodyThe Yard At Montavilla is a welcomed return of food carts for residents looking to expand their food options. The Dennis brothers share that enthusiasm. “We’re very excited to be bringing this to the Montavilla neighborhood, providing a space for 17 other small businesses to operate and thrive.” Expect to see crews onsite for the next few months, building the new dining destination’s infrastructure.


Photographs by Weston Ruter. Rendering provided by The Yard at Montavilla

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.

Original cart

Food Cart Pod Underway

With approved permits expected by the year’s end, Montavilla’s newest food destination could open by Spring. The Yard At Montavilla began development over a year ago. Now, after a long wait for approval, the developers expect to break ground by mid-January.

Located at 8220 NE Davis Street, the future food cart pod is across 82nd Ave from Vestal Elementary. When completed, the site will host 17 food carts. Owners Jeffrey and Kevin Dennis have leased six of those spaces already. One of those signed vendors is Scout Beer, a veteran of beer cart operations. In 2009 Scout started as a cart vendor. A few years ago, Scout Beer opened The Lot @ Scout, a food cart pod on SE Division.

The Dennis brothers faced an unexpected wait as the pandemic slowed the permitting process. The project only recently started to gain momentum. “We just found out last week that our on-site permits were approved and are moving through the pre-issuance department at the city,” explained Jeffrey Dennis. The construction process will be relatively fast. Dennis predicts that the project will take three or four months to complete after work begins.

Montavilla lost a cluster of food carts with the demolition of Beets Auto BodyThe Yard At Montavilla is a welcomed return of food carts for local foodies and the many people working in the area. The Dennis brothers share that enthusiasm. “We’re very excited to be bringing this to the Montavilla neighborhood, providing a space for 17 other small businesses to operate and thrive.” Look for work to begin in the new year and watch the business’s website for updates on carts joining the pod.

Food Cart Pod Coming

The two vacant lots across from Vestal could soon become a food cart pod. Back in August of 2016 Baiyok Thai Cuisine, and one other business, burnt down across from Vestal Elementary School on NE 82nd Ave. Now those two lots are being combined. A reader called our attention to a new permit application for 160 NE 82ND Ave. “Convert 2 lots to new food cart pod, including grading, paving, and installation of utilities and stormwater facility.”

According to documents, The Yard At Montavilla will likely be the name for this new cart pod. Based on the names provided on the Early Assistance application and a LLC filing. The same documents show that both Jeffrey Dennis and Kevin L. Dennis are attached to this project. They are behind a few other Portland developments, notably the The Hollywood 12 and The Hollywood 8 (Surprisingly the demolition of Baiyok Thai Cuisine and the building notice for the two Hollywood buildings, aperade in the same Star News article back in 2017). It is exciting to see a food related business return to this site. Up to this point it has been used as a parking lot or sat vacant.

With the loss of the food carts that had been part of the Beets Auto location, now demolished, this food cart pod will bring back carts to this area of Montavilla. We look forward to seeing what develops there and hopefully we can be eating there by this summer.