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Three new bike-based businesses spring up

Posted by on August 15th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’m happy to have three more bike-based businesses to introduce you to. Two of them are food-related, and we’ve got yet another service-related bike business (to add to the plumber, landscaper, general contractor, couriers, and others!).

Momo Cart

Momo Cart is a food cart run out of a bike trailer that sells Nepalese steamed dumplings. The cart opened in June and is the work of Evan Feenstra and his business partners Roshan and Hailey Bhai (Roshan is a native of Nepal). Evan says momos are standard snacking fare in Nepal and they’ve kept the same recipe you’d find on the streets there. Another tradition they follow is to pulling the cart by bike, which Evan says is often how they’re sold in Nepal.

They built the trailer themselves using old parts and bamboo from a neighbor’s house, then they bought a Surly hitch and wheels from Clever Cycles and they were ready to roll. They are open in Laurelhurst Park every day except Monday and they also work events. Learn more at MomoCart.com and on their Facebook page.

Steamin’ Hot Carpet Clean

Northeast Portland resident Jeff Johnson cleans carpets and upholstery by bike. Steamin’ Hot Carpet Clean has been on the streets since June. Jeff pulls his cleaning rig via a trailer behind his Trek mountain bike. Jeff has three years of cleaning experience under his belt. He says as an “avid cyclist” he was inspired to start doing his work by bike and that he is excited to offer a “green approach to a not-so-green industry.”

Learn more at CleaningByBike.com.

Raw Potential

Raw Potential is a new food business based on a Bullitt cargo bike. The owner, Jeffrey Schoenfeld, makes snacks and drinks that are non-dairy, vegan, organic, and raw. From what I’ve heard (from our friends at Splendid Cycles who sold him the cargo bike), his almond and macadamia milk is fantastic. You can find Raw Potential at the Irvington Farmer’s Market on Sundays from 10:30 to 2:30.

Check out RawPotentialpdx.com for more info.

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  • Jason August 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    These businesses are just awesome. I wonder how things will look when there are ten times, or a hundred times as many businesses run or augmented by bike. What would it take to commit to every day things with as many as possible businesses run by bike some day? Groceries delivered, house and plumbing repairs, food carts, courier service, and now carpet cleaning. If you dispose of yard debris yourself I could almost see a lawn or garden maintenance service run by bike. Looking forward to seeing what other ideas creative business types come up with in the future!

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    • LESTER August 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      There were at least 3 bike based lawn services in Vancouver this summer, now at least 2.

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  • AdamG August 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    don’t forget http://tandemtreats.wordpress.com/

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  • jake August 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    best of luck to all! maybe we’ll all cross paths sometime.

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  • John Lascurettes August 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Fantastic.

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  • jram August 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I don’t recall seeing them on Bikeportland, but one of my favorites is http://tacopedalerpdx.com/

    They cover a lot of ground with their cargo trikes. And their food is excellent.

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  • resopmok August 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I did some research a couple years ago in order to try opening a bike based food cart, and I’m not sure how these two have circumvented the problems I encountered, but frankly the deck is stacked against this sort of entrepreneurial endeavor. For example, according to health regulations, any prepped food items need to be made either on the spot or come from a health department certified commissary or commercial kitchen. Traditional trailer or truck based food carts prepare everything within their facilities and so only end up paying the rent for the spot they’re parked on, at half the cost or less of a commissary lease. Furthermore, health regulations require the presence (and use) of a handwashing station in any space used for food preparation and/or service. This means at a minimum one must have an ample supply of clean water, handsoap and paper towels.

    Additionally, the three types of permits available for carts essentially negate the mobility advantage that a bike provides. It would be ideal to move around and hit high traffic areas at different times of the day, and the only permit available that comes close to accommodating that requires you to set up in a parallel parking spot. Otherwise, permits are available for a single location only in the public RoW (such as a sidewalk or public park) or for carts in parking lots or areas such as cart pods. This is presumably so that you don’t so something like set up your hot dog bike cart on the sidewalk in front of Zach’s Shack. Either way, it’s not really feasible to leave your bike outside, so storage of some kind is needed – hopefully there is space at the expensive commissary.

    Lastly, it’s needed to keep in mind that though Portland is the bike capital, it also rains during a greater portion of the year than it doesn’t. A bike alone provides little protection from the elements, meaning either you somehow need to transport a giant umbrella or ensure that your permitted location(s) are both covered and profitable. And of course if there’s a roof over it, you need exhaust hoods for whatever burners might equip your bike.

    I’m a nine year veteran cook and have a pretty good grasp on what is legal for food service and what is not. If your business is not operating legally, eventually the health department will shut it down. If you invest in a bad business model, there’s a lot of risk in losing that investment. Ultimately, I decided to spend my savings on the down payment for a house while interest rates were low and houses were cheap instead.

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    • bArbaroo August 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I don’t know the other businesses, but Raw Potential has done their research and is doing things by the book. I know they’ve attained all necessary permits and licenses, are in accord with food prep regulations, and have the required hand-washing set-up. I also know it would have been easier for them not to do all of that BUT they are conscientious about the quality of food they are delivering – both contents and prep – and are following all of the regulations…so, I’m very happy to encourage you to support them with a purchase.

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  • dwainedibbly August 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    My 76 year old mother was visiting from Florida over the last couple of weeks. When I told her about Soupcycle, she looked at me like I was crazy.

    Here’s hoping that the issues that resopmok raises are solved!

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  • jake August 16, 2012 at 8:41 am

    resopmok; lots of facts and theory. and i can only speak for myself, but those things are not why i put rubber to the road.
    the more bike business’ that decide to venture out the better. more heads to brainstorm solutions! more exposure, more interest, more ides. more feasibility…

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  • Joseph E August 17, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Does anyone know of lawn service by bike in NE Portland? I would love to hire someone like that?

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  • JCG August 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Just opened this year is the food cart “Bogg’s Trailbutter” – a delicious and all-natural nut-butter, designed to provide lasting energy and nutrition. Not only did the inspiration for the creation of Trailbutter come from bike touring across the country, but the man behind the idea tote’s his Trailbutter by bike to 3 farmers markets to sell. (St. John’s, Cully Community, and Montavilla.)

    http://www.trailbutter.com/
    http://m.facebook.com/TrailButter

    To address resopmok’s issues, Bogg’s Trailbutter has gone through all the appropriate hoops to be a legitimate business including necessary permits and the Trailbutter is made in a health department certified commissary or commercial kitchen.

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  • Diana Rempe August 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    After reading this I called Jeff from Steaming Hot Carpet Cleaning and he rode over to our house in north Portland with his impressive (and heavy) trailer set up. I would highly recommend him. Great guy, great work, very affordable. Let him know you heard about him on Bike Portland because as of last week, I was the first to do so.

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