PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It was business as usual Monday for Ricardo Torres, a chef at La Birria, a family-owned food cart in Southeast Portland. As the temperatures climbed into the 90s, the food cart’s air ventilation system did what it could to remove the heat. But it has its limits.
“I’m still feeling the heat, still sweating, especially when I’m close to the grill,” Torres told KOIN 6 News. The ventilation system “doesn’t work too well sometimes, especially when it’s, like, 100 degrees out today.”
Even a slight breeze in Southeast Portland wasn’t enough to cool off the food carts on Foster, including Mo’jo’s Hawaiian. But owner John Nashlund found some workarounds for this week’s overheated forecast.
Nashlund just installed a swamp cooler to evaporate the heat while cooking. That way he can stay open for window service and deliveries.
“I’ve been doing this for 10 years and you’ve seen summers that were hotter, like last year we had a couple days that were 115,” he said. “So you kind of get used to it a little bit and figure out how to work around it, but it’s hot.”
But not all food carts are staying open. Some have signs that they closed early during the hottest part of the day, and some won’t come in at all on the hottest days this week.
“For a lot of people, it’s the 100 degrees is the end of the line,” Nashlund said. “If it’s going to be 100 or above, they close.”
It’s not just the people who can’t work in the heat. It’s their refrigerators.
“They work harder and it’s harder on them, so sometimes its better to empty the refrigerators out, unplug them, give them the day off rather than try and work them too hard,” Nashlund said.
But if it’s a chilly treat you need this week Mo’jo’s might be the place for you.
“We’ve got shaved ice!” Nashlund said. “The shaved ice machine is ready to go.”