PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Food carts are a staple of Portland, and despite sizzling temperatures, food trucks continue to work amid the busiest – and often hottest – hours of the day.
But in this heat, the reality of cooking hot food in metal carts on hot pavement can prove to be a challenge for even the most dedicated of service workers.
Korean Twist Owner Christian Lee says he’s committed to working as long as his team is safe at the Asian fusion food cart, which is located at the Hawthorne Asylum pod in Southeast Portland.
“When you’re actually cooking and standing over the grill it gets a little crazy,” Lee said. “Like it’s almost too hot.”
He told KOIN 6 that heat events from previous summers have forced them to close early in the past.
“If it’s over 100 degrees, I’ll generally just close for dinner and do lunch only,” he said. “Those days, you really can’t operate it’s way too hot.”
Temperatures are not expected to reach 100 degrees over the weekend, so Lee said they plan to keep the cart open this weekend. Worst case, they may choose to close after the lunch rush.
Encased in metal, on concrete, and without the cloak of shade, Lee said the temperature inside the cart is often the same as outside.
“We’ve got a lot of fans and the ACs running, which don’t do much, but it helps move the air,” he said.
But for members of his team who aren’t used to the sizzling temps, Lee says he frequently checks on them – sometimes stepping in or staying late to stave off the heat.
“I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m kind of used to it. But with newer employees, I notice they struggle a little bit, so I’ll try to try to help them and step in for them as much as I can,” he said. “I’ll stick around most days throughout the whole day if it’s a really hot day.”