Real estate developer Valerie Hunter identifies herself as a foodie — albeit a frustrated one. A resident of Happy Valley, she grew tired of big box national chain restaurants (where wait times to get a seat during peak times can last as long as an hour), and equally tired of the drive to Portland to find food she's actually excited to eat. So she thought why not bring Portland to her own backyard?
She bought an acre-and-a-half lot and set about developing what she says is Clackamas County's first-ever food cart pod — and the state of Oregon's largest.
Her project, Happy Valley's Melting Pot, includes a 4,000-square-foot structure that will seat up to 450 people and stay open year round. When it's cold the space will be heated, and when it's warm, the 20-foot garage doors will be rolled up to let the outside in. And when those winter rains start to fall, the structure's overhanging roof allows you to stand in line at at any of the 23 carts that horseshoe the pavilion without ever getting wet. The site is currently under construction and should be open by August 15.
Among the food court's other amenities are a 400-square-foot play area for the kids, board games like Jenga and Yahtzee, plenty of outdoor seating and an outdoor horseshoe pit.
"Basically, you just bring your cart, and I'll provide the ambience," says Hunter.
As for eats and drinks, the pod will be home to three permanent indoor carts, including a coffee shop serving mini-donuts, a dessert cart and a craft beer and wine bar that will pour as many as 30 craft beers. Outside will be ringed with around 20 carts. So far, about 10 have signed on to take a crack at those Happy Valley residents starved for good and diverse eats, among them Chloe's SoCal Mexican Grill, Yaba Yabaa and Portland cart favorites like KOi Fusion, E-San Thai, and the resurrected Sok Sab Bai Cambodian cart. She still has space for another 11 carts, though, which she hopes to sign on soon.
Happy Valley's Melting Pot (opening August 2015): 13551 145th Ave., Happy Valley; Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.