The meeting tonight at Greek Cusina was attended by approximately 50 people - owners of restaurants, carts and trailers. It seemed like an opportunity for Ted Papas to vent - there was no focus to the meeting. There was no agenda - Papas stood in the front of the room and controlled the meeting. He stated several times that it was a private meeting for restaurant owners only; and implied that he was doing a favor to the cart and trailer owners by letting them stay and "enjoy his food, drinks and Greek hospitality."
Papas jumped from issue to issue: food trailers; food critics/the media; Entertainment Books; and "transient problems."
Papas started off by giving his definition of "restaurant." To him, it must be in a permanent building with 4 walls and a roof; hard plumbing; and restrooms, and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He said food trailers don't meet those qualifications.
He defined a restaurant as being in a leased space in a permanent building with four walls and a roof; hard plumbing/restrooms; and ADA access. He repeatedly said that push carts are ok, because they're not left overnight. He said the cart vendors work hard and add flavor to the city. Food trailers, on the other hand, are a nuisance because they're on private property and don't have to play by the same rules as "restaurants."
He attempted to justify the meeting by saying that he was just a landlord looking out for his tenant, Happy Bowl, and that he didn't want to get rid of the trailers for his own benefit. He continually contradicted himself - at the beginning of the meeting, he was upset that food trailer vendors didn't have leases (they're month to month tenants) but he later said that he wanted the trailers to be allowed only at fairs and in industrial areas. He was very upset about the 14 trailers in the parking lot on 5th Avenue - they don't have "hard plumbing" (something he seemed a little obsessed with.) If the 14 food carts have 14 bathrooms, I guess they'll be ok with him.
One of the co-owners of No Fish Go Fish, John Doyle, explained what is required to set up a push cart in Portland. They are only allowed to sell 4 types of products: food, flowers, books or souvenirs. Food carts must have handwashing facilities; permits from the city, health department and fire department; a letter of consent from the property owner if the cart is in front of a building; and a commissary agreement (showing access to a commercial kitchen.) Trailer owners also need to complete a plan review for the city.
Whenever the trailer owners tried to explain or defend themselves, Papas would repeat that it was a private meeting for restaurant owners only and there wasn't enough time for them to speak. He referred to the trailers as a "disease" and said, "if we have to go to court we will."
Papas kept repeating that he wanted "fair competition." John Doyle of No Fish Go Fish made an excellent point: If you want a level playing field, it should be level on both sides - mobile units should be allowed to serve alcohol."
The meeting ended with a short rant about "transients." Papas said that in the old days, "transients were more civilized." Today, he says, "they are evil, bad, drunk, bad news, violent, and have no respect. The minute you try to argue with them they storm around your restaurant." He closed the meeting by saying "Nobody's my enemy... what we need is fairness and fair competition... I don't wanna be the bad guy... "
I didn't get a list of names or restaurants represented at the meeting. Papas did almost all of the talking and I didn't really get an idea of how the rest of the attendees felt about the issues he brought up. I did talk briefly with the owners of No Fish Go Fish (John Doyle and Sean Brown) and I will continue to patronize their carts and restaurant. I will not eat at Greek Cusina, as I am personally disgusted by Ted Papas. The meeting seemed to be more focused on his personal vendetta than looking out for his tenant, Happy Bowl (his stated justification for wanting to get rid of the trailers.)
Support the trailers - and let the city know you don't agree with Ted Papas.