Food carts weren’t always in the plan for the new Collective Oregon Eateries pod. Five years ago, when Mandy Kao started helping her in-laws redevelop the former Farm House restaurant on Southeast 82nd Avenue, the hope was to transform the space into the kind of sprawling Chinese banquet hall Portland hasn’t seen since Legin’s 2012 closure.
But Kao was wary. Her father-in-law, who also owns Om Seafood nearby on Southeast Powell Boulevard, was preparing to retire, and she knew a successful banquet hall would require a significant investment in time, energy and employees. Instead, she and husband, Hanry Ho, suggested something with a bit more Portland flavor: a combined food hall and food cart pod with room for two dozen small businesses, bright murals, live music and a full bar.
“Portland is a cart pod city, so we threw out an idea: ‘Why not do a food cart pod?’”