A new food cart pod, complete with a cocktail bar run by a Portland industry vet, is opening off Division. Hinterland Bar & Carts will open in September with high-profile carts like Burger Stevens and cocktails designed to match the carts.
Hinterland comes from Ryan Schenk and Rowan Dunlap, who have lived in the neighborhood for a decade. The space is built around a bar, surrounded by outdoor seating and lined with a handful of food carts. The two initially planned on building out a large-scale bar — “a place where people could gather,” in Schenk’s words — but as the pandemic raged on, the appeal of a food cart pod with ample outdoor seating seemed appealing. “Part of us being in the neighborhood and seeing things growing and changing is the rise and fall of food cart pods to developments,” Dunlap says. “We see those spaces as really valuable, and we wanted to create a space like that that was still really approachable.”
Still, the two wanted to make sure they kept an accessible cocktail bar at the center of the project, one that would work collaboratively with the carts in the pod. To handle the bar, then, the two would need a good general manager, someone who knows the industry and can design drinks that work with a wide variety of cuisines. Dunlap and Schenk decided to reach out to someone in the know: Brett Heiney, the general manager of the now-closed Trifecta. Heiney had a man in mind: Taylor Gehrts, a Trifecta alum who has also worked at places like now-closed Spanish spot Masia, the eclectic Smallwares, and Italian destination Nostrana. When Gehrts met with Dunlap and Schenk, it felt like a good fit. “It seemed like we had the same idea. We want it to be an elevated bar program but have it be approachable,” he says. “You can get a tall boy and a shot of whiskey, but also a nice negroni.”
The bar at Hinterland will have all the classics: 10 rotating taps of beer, a tight wine list, and a slate of classic drinks and creations of Gehrts from past years. Like the incoming bar at Collective Oregon Eateries, however, Hinterland will have at least one drink matched for each of the carts at Hinterland, whether it’s a non-alcoholic beverage or a stronger drink. For instance, sushi burrito cart Let’s Roll PDX will take one of the slots at Hinterland; Gehrts thought he might try something like a shiso-yuzu shrub for Let’s Roll, to work with the flavors of the sushi. “I want to play with the cuisine, but won’t be too staunch to not pair with anything else,” Gehrts says. “I’ve worked with a lot of different cuisines, I’m a huge food and drink nerd. Grabbing influences from different cuisines is a huge interest of mine.”
The food cart pod itself will house somewhere between five or six carts, with seating both indoors and outdoors. Currently, Dunlap and Schenk estimate that the outdoor patio will seat around 120, with an additional 40 or so seats indoors. “I assume that people are still going to want to be more comfortable outside, so we will have access to the bar from the front patio, there will be a huge open window people can order from,” Schenk says. “We also want to acknowledge that the pandemic really took its toll and some people won’t be ready to sit in a bar for the next year.”
Hinterland will open in September at 2216 SE 50th Avenue.