PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Core PDX, near Southeast 82nd and Powell, aims to be a foodie destination that’s also the heart of this Portland community. Now, Hanry Ho and Mandy Kao see their vision is real.

“When we started this, we want to make sure, like, in this area you may not get all that stuff. And we want to bring that over to this area,” Ho said.

Kao said they “kind of want to provide that variety, but then we also had to think about how it would fit into our Pacific Northwest,” — that is, a welcoming space no matter the weather.

Thats’ why Core PDX — the Collective Oregon Eateries — has an indoor area with air conditioning and heating.

The couple also thought about how to best serve families.

“The amenities of these restrooms are very crucial for us because we’ve had times where we went to food cart pods and we’re, like, we need to change a diaper where we got there,” she said. “And then we ran to our car and it’s raining and it’s cold and our kids are freezing. So that kind of brought the whole thing of how we want it to create this atmosphere.”

The atmosphere elevates each of the small businesses at Core PDX.

“Everyone deserves, you know, a little bit of spotlight,” Ho said, “because everyone’s doing such unique cuisines that we want to make sure everyone sees that.”

One of those spotlights shines on first-time food cart Sou’s.

Sou’s is one spot at Core PDX, near Southeast 82nd and Powell, Februrary 2022 (KOIN)

For years, Sou Saecheao’s been selling his food at local events and markets all around the region.

“We are from the mountains of Laos,” Sou said. “I’m Mien, so we don’t really have a real cuisine, like a melting pot. So we just kind of take every little bit of different cuisines and just match it together. Then I do a little bit of everything having tacos or burritos.”

But Sou is best known for his salt-and-pepper squid.

Sou’s is one spot at Core PDX, near Southeast 82nd and Powell, Februrary 2022 (KOIN)

“I have a big sign up there. It says, ‘Best type of salted squid in town.’ That’s from the customer, not me,” he said, laughing. “Stuck with it and ran with it.”

He and his wife Susan Cha hope their business will keep growing from here.

“It’s definitely been a goal of his to make his own food, make it known,” Susan said. “This is a good start. We’re hoping to expand in some way.”

Another small business getting a boost at Core PDX is HeyDay Donuts, which will move from pop-ups in the area to a permanent place in Spring.

Expansion is already underway for Core PDX. Mandy Kao and Hanry Ho are bringing in musicians, dancers and hosting cultural events.

“That’s what’s so great is that we’re trying to really bring communities together through this work that we’re having done,” Kao said. “And we kind of want to provide our space to kind of help, you know, spread awareness of our community about the people that live here, because we are also part of this area.”

What’s happening inside is being embraced just outside the doors, too. They both said if neighbors said any trash left behind or littering in general they would grab it and pick it up.

“We have a strong community and it’s because we don’t have a base for people to come and gather,” Kao said. “That’s why no one really noticed how strong this community is. But now we do.”