Photo by Carl, Flickr

This “safer bet” is where the second generation of Portland’s food industry intersects with the region’s commitment to density in the face of growth. Micro restaurants and food halls celebrate small spaces. Their inherent informality appeals to diners who treat dining out as an everyday form of entertainment. The small, turnkey spaces make it easier for established local food businesses to expand. “It took only three months to get all nine Letters of Intent at Pine Street signed,” says project developer Jean Pierre Veillet, principal of Siteworks design-build firm. “There’s a hankering for small space in the city’s core.”

Projects like Pine Street and Bethany are the logical evolution of food carts — a codifying and commodifying of the once gritty first-generation food entrepreneurship. Done right, they will ensure that Portland’s food cred will continue to grow, one meal at a time. The statewide food system that fuels these restaurants, and other food-based industries, is also evolving. That is: The first generation of food business would never have taken off without the quality and diversity from Oregon’s small, family-owned farms. Will those conditions persist for the second?

In Oregon Business, Amy Milshtein writes about the way a few new food hall projects signal the future of restaurateuring in Portland, Oregon, and how the city’s rising rents, increasing density and success as a food destination have pushed it into a new phase of greater polish, greater competition, higher financial stakes, and greater responsibility to create sustainable food systems.

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