Shyam Dausoa’s Chez Dodo has seen brighter days.
In just over a month, the downtown food cart has been burgled—twice—and January’s snowstorm dinged the cart in more ways than one. Not only did the cold weather freeze its pipes, it also did a whole act of god routine on a nearby tree, which dropped a heavy branch onto the cart, damaging its vent and hood, which Dausoa relies on to deep-fry his famous samosas—or his shyamosas, as his regulars call them.
In total, Dausoa estimates that his cart’s been dark for 30 of the last 40 days—including an 11-day run during the snowstorm.
Such a month of bad breaks would seemingly doom any business, let alone a food cart. (Dausoa says the snowstorm put the final nail in the coffin of neighboring cart, Left Coast.)
But Chez Dodo—the only food cart or restaurant in the United States serving the culinary mashup of Creole, French, Chinese, Indian, and Portuguese influences that make up Mauritian cuisine—is refusing to go gently.
Earlier this week, Dausoa started a Go Fund Me campaign to help make the cart whole. In just a few days, donors provided a quarter of Dausoa’s modest $6,200 request. But he’s hoping you might be able to help with the rest.
“In December, I was ready to give up,” Dausoa told Eater. Thieves had damaged his cart and made off with the iPad he used to process credit cards, and the snowstorm clobbered him and his neighbors. It was his wife who suggested he reach out to his customers via the Go Fund Me campaign.
If donors help him meet his goal, he plans on spending the funds on repairs, missed rent, and a large awning that will shelter his guests during the rainy months.
He’s hoping Portlanders will help him out, just as he helps out those less fortunate than he is. Dausoa supports a long list of nonprofits, and often provides free meals to the homeless. (It should also be noted that he doesn’t think the break-ins were perpetrated by the homeless he’s helped in the past.)
“I didn’t open a food cart to get rich,” Dausoa said. “I just want to spread love and the joy of eating by bringing together all colors of life. The food carts, we are one community. We are struggling right now and we’re asking that you please come help us.”
Donations to help the cart can be made by visiting Chez Dodo’s Go Fund Me page. However, if you can’t donate, you can always swing by for lunch at his cart or, as Shyam Dausoa says, at any cart. As he says, they’re all in it together.
Chez Dodo: 427 SW Stark St., 503-270-9258; Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday