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Meeting at Greek Cusina

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 (owner of Greek Cusina) to vent - there was no focus to the meeting.
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.

Renee
Thanks for the report 05.Aug.2002 23:24

indy reader

Thanks for posting this excellent report, Renee. You've painted a great picture of what this guy is like. What a jerk!

Great Summary! 05.Aug.2002 23:25

jack

Thanx Renee!

Hmmm. 06.Aug.2002 05:41

Bickle

Yeah...this has been an interesting story to watch unfold. One the one hand, I can understand why the restauranteers downtown feel so threatened...they are being undercut by folks with half their overhead. On the other hand, as an ardent supporter of libertarian style free-market capitalism, it seems to make sense that, well, these carts ARE complying with health dept. regulations, city licenses, etc....and I sure as hell love to go down to the Parking Lot Carts when I'm trying to make a buck in my taxicab. EVERYONE knows that they are the best deal going.

MY prediction: Portland, held up for scrutiny nationwide as this weird Socialist experiment in an extremely conservative redneck state, will conform to the time-honored Socialist model: A new tax, or a drastic increase in existing taxes will be levied upon the carts, to placate the restaurant owners, level the playing field (supposedly), and, more importantly, bring yet more revenue flow into the coffers of the bureaucratic elite who ride around this city in limos and live in mansions, tossing a bone here and there to the poor, deprived masses, and living in the lap of luxury, just like in any other failed Marxist utopia. With any luck, the price of some of that delicious food down at Taste of India will only rise a buck-fiddy or so !

Another thing...that Papas DOES come off like a really MEAN, EVIL guy when he's talking about the crusties downtown. At least I have the intestinal fortitude to be POLITE to them when they shoot up heroin in the back of my cab, try to leave the (possibly) HIV-infected rig tucked down in the seat, where some uptight right-winger might SUE MY ASS if she gets pricked, and then short me on the cabfare..."c'mon, you look like you used to be a punk rocker"...after spending 25-100 bucks paying the CIA to poison them to death.


Yeah, it's all black and white, isn't it.


love,
Travis.

Homeless advocates are watching you, dude. . 06.Aug.2002 10:47

Orion kboobucket@yahoo.com

I could not make it to their private meeting, so much thanks to Renee for covering it. I am intensely interested in what other restaurant owners support Papa's fascist tripe; if anyone gets an accurate low-down, post it here, PLEASE! (I'm delighted to hear Go Fish! No Fish! has more sense—they seem like good people). Voting with our dollars is so important. I can tell you that I will be giving people the tip on his bad behavior before they eat at the Cuisina, and none of my money will go there.

But what is even more interesting to me is this attack on the homeless as well, a popular thing to do these days, what with the Title 14 "sit-lie" discussion and all. Well, his posse has a whole new set of adversaries if that's where they're taking this! Under no circumstances will we accept the message that blocking the public sidewalks with a money-making venture such as a multi-million-dollar restaurant is okay, but a person pushing a shopping cart is not. As part of the homeless activist community, we WILL be monitoring this temper-tantrum. I encourage all others of you with an interest in low-income and homeless issues to keep tabs on this, too; this is how bad city policy can get started. If there seems a need to do any organizing around this aspect in the future, do shoot me an email at  kboobucket@yahoo.com.

Pap-ass 06.Aug.2002 12:24

dizazt0r::blank1t

he can't be serious about getting rid of my man Johnnie's cart on 5th ave?! unfair competition?? that Papas, what a maroon! in reading the Tribune story it seems like the guy is just mad that people want something (pretty) affordable to eat.

Trailers, not carts 06.Aug.2002 12:35

Renee

He did make a point (several times) that he doesn't have a problem with the lunch carts (the ones that are removed every night and brough back the next day.) He has a problem with the trailers that are left in one spot all the time (like the ones in the City Center parking lot on 5th.)

Renee

Focusing on the Trailers or Carts is Wrong 06.Aug.2002 16:50

Grumpy

Listen, I love those trailers, too...especially the Indian one, but if this is the focus of folks complaints or activism in response to Papas, I'm gonna puke.

Sounds like he has three goals for his little group:
1. Eliminate the competition of the trailers
2. Eliminate some food critics he's mad at
3. Eliminate the "evil" homeless

Again, I dig the trailers, but unless we are truly faced with some kind of food monopoly downtown, this is a non-issue. I suspect that this issue resonates with folks because it affects their dining habits, not because it's some legitimate social/political issue.

As for point #2...again, who gives a shit?

Now, point #3...this is what we need to fight against. Homeless people are being targeted. Papas and his friends at City Hall are talking about making it illegal to sit on the sidewalk. They are trying to criminalize homelessness. This is the issue here. If we let them sidetrack us with this bullshit about trailers and food critics, while they attack homeless people, then we are pretty doomed as a movement.

Grumpy is right 07.Aug.2002 01:07

doesn't eat out

Grumpy is right. The big issue here is homelessness. If dislike for Papas is a way to bring the trailer food folks aboard on the homelessness issue, then great. If people who like the Indian cart will *also* get upset about the homeless people (and hopefully get *more* upset about it) then great too. The cart issue isn't enough by itself, unless you bring in the fact that some of them are apparently immigrants. Then there might be a racial/xenophobia side of this happening too, and that's significant.

But you're right, Grumpy. Let's keep the focus on the homeless people. They're the ones with the most to lose here and we need to stand up for them and with them.

history repeating itself 08.Aug.2002 02:52

Bickle

I remember when I was living in Texas, in Austin, about 8 years ago or so, the City passed this ridiculous "Camping Ordinance" in response to pressure from all the downtown buisiness owners who were tired of dealing with hundreds of crusty panhandlers and drunks in the doorways. Well, it was tremendously unpopular, and, eventually, thrown out as being totally unconstitutional. I vividly remember watching a friend who had made a little extra dough on the side reading Tarot cards down by the University get told by the beat cops that he was now "Camping", under the letter of the law, and it was time to get up and go. Well, old Criss Piss, RIP, got in that young rookies face and had him run down the letter of the law for him...under the letter of that law, say, if you were riding your bike home from the store with some groceries or something, got tired, and pulled over to rest on a bus bench, pulled out your bag of grub, and set your backpack on the ground to eat a bananna, you were now "Camping", and your bicycle, food and backpack could be impounded, and you could be jailed and fined 500 bucks.

WEll, needless to say, the damn thing was thrown out, and the cops I talked to were all pretty sick of wasting their time with it after a while.

I wish I had the case name and number....someone could probably find it on Google or something...and present this information to the City of Portland before they start wasting their time and our money on this. Now, I should state that a lot of the time, SOME, not all, but SOME of those kids downtown REEEALLLLY aggrivate me...but the solution is not unenforceable, illegal, in fact laws.

conversation with the cusina 08.Aug.2002 09:55

todd

I talked to them about this and found out two interesting things. Oddly enough they apparently donate food and money to nonprofit homeless feeding programs, but perhaps that will change with the new super-homeless of today :) Also some of the employees are against this. They probably are unable to speak out about, but it is too bad that not so well paid employees have to suffer because their owner, who they hardly know, is a classist capitalist bastard.

zorba the hun 01.Sep.2002 02:30

antidote

if teddy wants to compete, he oughta put some dolmas and gyros on a wagon piloted by homeless mexican punks and get in on the game. he's on a rampage, he needs a vacation. he's trying to do too much. the economy sucks and he wants to burn the enemies in a big bonfire. no fish go fish should create a sandwich in his honor -- filled with olives and sour cream. and they should open a cart on san pablo avenue on the oakland emeryville border. thanks.

Hey Ted, you're breaking the law! 03.Sep.2002 19:30

Jayson

An Open Note to Ted Papas:

I have eaten in your place dozens of times and I have always enjoyed the staff and food. You serve good food, but it is not Portland's best, or most reasonably priced.

I have been very disappointed to see your rants about the food carts downtown, which I eat at quite frequently. (Especially "A Taste of India" across from the BofA. That place kicks ass!)

What gives, brother?

Yours,

Jayson

P.S. I wanted you to know that your restaurant and all of its outdoor seating is in violation of Portland's new sit-lie ordinance, which went into effect on September 1.

When can we expect your establishment to be in compliance with this law?