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North Portland food cart owner reopens two weeks after damaging fire

Julio Mendoza, owner of "Pepe Chile's Taqueria" has had his food cart in Portland for almost 10 years and was determined to quickly get back to doing what he loves.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Julio Mendoza, the owner of Pepe Chile's Taqueria, reopened his food cart two weeks after it was burned to the grown in North Portland.

Mendoza has had a food cart in Portland for almost 10 years and was determined to quickly get back to doing what he loves. 

On Sept. 4 just before 3 p.m., a fire broke out at a food cart pod at the intersection of North Vancouver Avenue and North Fremont Street. The fire burned Mendoza's food cart causing over a hundred thousand dollars in damages. 

"Haven't slept much, I sleep 4-5 hours a day," said Mendoza, "because we have to remove everything."

After clean up efforts, he decided to move his newest food cart from Hawthorne and 32nd to north Portland. 

"I closed that and brought that food cart over here because this is my first income and it's been here for 7 years already," Mendoza said.

Pepe Chile's has been reopened for a few days now but Mendoza still feels the sting of the nearly two weeks they were closed.

"We are behind bills and rent," said Mendoza.

Credit: Julio Mendoza
N Portland food cart owners Julio Mendoza and Vick in front of burned down truck

Mendoza isn't alone, other carts were also damaged by the flames earlier this month.

Vicky's Kitchen Thai Street, a food cart right next to Mendoza's, was also completely destroyed by the fire.

Owner Vicky told KGW that she also plans to reopen in about two weeks. Mendoza said he will help Vicky with equipment installation and more. 

It's still an uphill battle but he's grateful to have his food cart up and running again. 

"We still have a lot to pay to be in business, it's really hard to see where we're going to be but thank you everyone for being supportive," said Mendoza. 

There's a GoFundMe to help with recovery efforts for Pepe Chile's Taqueria.

Portland Fire & Rescue hasn't released the cause of the fire.

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