Extreme heat has food carts closing, changing hours

Food trucks closing, changing hours during heat

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Being in a cramped space you're sharing with a hot grill is enough to make some food cart owners close this week.

The temperatures are just going to be too much for them to safely cook for the masses. They say this year has been a crazy one for Portland weather, forcing them to shut down for snow in the winter, and now for extreme heat.

Reggie Ballesteros is doing some light prep work, chopping onions for some new hours this week. His paper plate sign outside his taco cart says they'll be open 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Saturday, instead of his usual all day hours. Tight Tacos on Southeast 39th Avenue and Belmont Street has a cult following thanks to social media and their tasty street food made fresh to order inside.

"We grill all the meats and the fresh tortillas and with the pastor machine, it's like a flame thrower," Ballesteros said.

Snow closed them down for 20 days last winter. Now, it's intense heat. Changing to late night hours will be safer for his employees. Because even Monday morning before noon, Ballesteros' thermometer inside the truck said it was 91 degrees inside, and that's with nothing turned on.

"It gets to 120, 130 degrees here and you can't escape it. You get a line of people wanting food and you can't get away from it, you just keep cooking."

Across town, reaching into the deep freeze feels pretty good for Scoop Ice Cream employees. It's the standing over the waffle iron next to a window that allows the blazing sun to stream through all day that's not so fun.

"It's a metal box so it's going to get hot. A little clostrophobia sets in," says Scoop owner Sean Sitton. He sells his handmade, organic and locally sourced ice cream out of this truck at Northeast 42nd Avenue and Killingsworth Street. He has other trucks that travel around to events.

He says the magic temperature range for peak ice cream sales is between 78-83 degrees. "When it gets too hot, the cone starts to drip and people would rather hide inside in the shade," Sitton said laughing. When he saw the seven-day forecast, he decided to close Wednesday and Thursday. "It would just be terrible for our folks to be out here for 10 hours in the heat."

Next door, sandwich cart Pastrami Zombie will be staying open. 

Some brick and mortars like Pips Original Donuts on Northeast Fremont Street announced on Instagram they'll be closing early so employees don't slave over the deep fryer. 21st Century Pizza downtown posted a sign on their window, they'll be closed Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Friday.

Sitton says closing isn't ideal and hurts business. "It does to some extent, but I'm definitely okay with sacrificing a little bit of business to make sure my folks are not getting killed by the heat."

© 2017 KGW-TV


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