Published on: August 1, 2019
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I recorded this FaceTime while standing in front of a vacant parking lot on the west side of Portland, Oregon … a parking lot that until a few weeks ago was home to the city’s largest encampments of food trucks.
Now, they’re gone.
It isn’t the first pod of food trucks to be cleared out. Another was eliminated last year. The most recent one was vacated so that developers could build a hotel - reportedly a 35-story Ritz Carlton Hotel. (The other was cleared out for a Marriott Moxy hotel. Sense a pattern?)
I have to be honest. Does the world really need another Ritz Carlton?
The hotel’s owners and investors, of course, would say yes. I get that.
I also get that not everybody in Portland loves the food trucks. There are those who run traditional food stores and restaurants who would argue, with some validity, that the food trucks were taking business away from entities that spent a lot more money on infrastructure and taxes than the folks who ran their businesses out of what essentially were converted trailers.
But there is part of me that is sad about this. The food truck culture, to me, is an important part of what makes Portland unique. Not as unique, maybe, as it once was, since food trucks have become ubiquitous in a lot of cities. But there always a sense that this is where it started, and I always thought that they added a sense of culinary experimentation to the culture. In some ways, they pushed things forward … bringing better average food at affordable prices - often way better than average - to street corners and people who might ordinarily not have had access to it.
That’s a good thing. I wish more traditional food retailers could tap into that culture, not just in Portland, and find ways to give space and time and visibility to food entrepreneurs looking to et a break and try something new, but without the backing and financing to make it happen on their own.
I’m glad to hear that city officials are trying to find a new home for some of the food trucks. It suggests that they recognize the role they play in helping to define the city.
On the other hand, Portland is being redefined in ways hard to calculate as it grows and expands and become something different than it has been. The new Ritz Carlton will be a symbol of that change, but it isn’t going to smell as good and it isn’t going to taste as good.
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: