MATLOCK'S HOT DOG stand has been the go-to lunch spot outside the Multnomah County Courthouse on SW 4th for four years. But now, because it allegedly represents a "security threat," the stand has to go.
Owner and operator Bill Roadman says he received a letter three weeks ago from County Facilities and Property Manager Michael Crank, from whom he usually buys a $300 annual permit to operate outside the courthouse, telling him to move by December 31.
"Apparently he's been gotten to by people inside [the courthouse] who conveyed that they had some security issues," says Roadman.
Citizens entering the courthouse are required to go through a metal detector, and last year sheriff's deputies inside the courthouse stopped holding banned items—like knives, mace, and heavy bike locks.
Roadman started holding banned items at his cart, for $1 a pop, until citizens finished their courthouse business. Roadman says he doesn't know for sure, but wonders whether his entrepreneurial side business may have prompted sheriff's deputies to crack down on his business since then. The largest item Roadman has ever held is an ornamental sword, although he doesn't hold drug pipes or handguns for legal and safety reasons.
Roadman is resigned to his fate, and has already staked out a new spot for his cart at SW 4th and Morrison, but after four years building up his business, he's concerned about acquiring a new set of regulars in a recession.
"I sell a lot of dogs to the courthouse staff," he says.
Roadman has also put up a sign telling his current customers that the courthouse "in their infinite wisdom," has essentially evicted him, and to let them know where he'll be in the future. A vegetarian for 30 years, Roadman frequently plays tunes on his classical guitar during slow periods in the afternoons. "Maybe they just don't like my music," he wonders.
Crank says that's not the case. "We don't want any vendors around the building for security reasons," Crank told the Mercury. "This is nothing personal against [Roadman], it's just for security around the building."
Crank referred the Mercury to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office for comment when asked to clarify what kind of security threat is posed by Roadman's $3 wieners.
"They want to increase security, not because they think there's a looming threat, but because they think it's a good thing to do," says Public Information Officer Paul McRedmond. "When was the right time to increase security in Mumbai? Not that I'm trying to equate the two at all, but if we allow one vendor to come, then all do, and pretty soon we'd have Saturday market out there. We decided to just say no, for the sake of security."