If ever a food cart needed to go brick and mortar, it's The Big Egg. The breakfast sandwich shop on wheels has been parked at the Mississippi Marketplace pod for six years, and for six years hungry Portlanders, their out-of-town friends, and tourists in the know have been flocking to the bright yellow box to get their hands on fully-loaded, flavor-packed egg sandwiches. But with production limited to what proprietors Gail and Elizabeth Buchanan can churn out with their four hands in a 95-square-foot space, long waits and the crushing disappointment that comes with a "sold out" sign were de riguer. They're hoping that'll change come late June.
That's when The Big Egg will open the doors to its permanent digs, taking over the spot that was, until last Sunday, The Sugar Cube bakery. "We're going to have more room and more equipment so we can make more things at once," says Gail Buchanan. "At the cart we could only cook so many items, but now we can make more things. We can actually fit employees in here."
The cart is open normal hours today and tomorrow, May 8 and 9. After that you'll have to wait about two months to get another taste of breakfast bliss.
Buchanan says the new incarnation will stay true to the original, so don't expect a foray into breakfast plates like hotcake short stacks or corned beef hash. "The concept is still full-on egg sandwiches."
But you can expect a slightly expanded menu thanks to the bigger kitchen and expanded storage space. "We're going to start with all of our classics and maybe get up to like eight things, expanding as we go," she says. "We're going to bring back the Monte Cristo."
They'll also offer pastries from a local bakery, although they're still deciding which one. "That's my fun task," says Buchanan. "I get to go around town tasting pastries." To drink, they'll offer fresh local juices and Cellar Door coffee. "We're in love with Cellar Door. We can't wait to get them back with us. We'll do French press like we used to offer at the cart. But we don't have plans to do espresso because Caffe Vita's right down the street."
And as for the space itself, not only is it pretty much good to go, Buchanan says it's their dream spot. "What so awesome about the whole thing is we loved what Kir did with space," says Buchanan. "The interior is just perfect. It's so inviting and warm. When we first saw it we were like, 'We'd love to have this some day.' Kir is a good friend and we're so thankful to her for coming to us. We're unbelievably excited."
Inside, the butter yellow walls and seating areas will all remain unchanged. But outside will get a new coat of their signature bright yellow Big Egg paint. Think of it as a bigger, better version of the cart. Even the hours will remain the same, although Buchanan says they'd consider expanding if there was demand. "We're keeping things simple in the beginning, but anything can change," she says. "We just want to get in there and start rocking."
The Big Egg (opening late June): 3039 NE Alberta Ave., Portland. Hours: Wednesday - Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.