Portland's favorite gluttonous, french-fry-stuffed sandwich food cart is moving over the river, leaving its prime downtown location on SW 3rd and Ash for a more logistically convenient spot in Southeast Industrial.
The cart has been open for three years but has had insanely long lines this summer after a piece on the Travel Channel made them a tourist destination akin to Voodoo Donuts.
Big Ass's reasons for heading over the river illuminate the daily difficulties of running a food cart. Co-owners Lisa and Brian Wood had a less-than-great relationship with their landlord, City Center Parking, which raised the rent three times (to $600 a month) on their downtown parking space and made them censor the posted name of their cart to the tepid Big A** Sandwiches.
"City Center doesn't provide us shit," says Lisa Wood. "No bathrooms, no recycling, no garbage, nowhere to dump our graywater, we pay for just that little chunk of asphalt. I have to run all my own garbage and recycling and pay someone to bring me water."
The couple is hoping to someday own a restaurant, but the eastside space—behind the bar Branx—is adjacent to a commercial kitchen used by a lot of food carts in town, including Potato Champion, and is a good "in-between spot."
"Say we run out of beef, instead of having to shut the cart down, we can just run and grab more beef from the kitchen," says Wood. "It was really killing us that we couldn't keep up. I had people yelling at me everyday, 'WHY DON'T YOU JUST MAKE MORE STUFF!' And I'm like, "Where am I going to put it?'"
The spot will definitely have less walk-by traffic, but there are actually a lot of employers in Southeast Industrial and pretty much the only place to eat within a few blocks is Produce Row. I'm sure workers in the area will rejoice at the doubling of their lunch options. The cart will have more space and the ability to serve more people, so it will expand to doing lunch, dinner, and hopefully late-night food in the near future. The move should take place at the end of October.