Most people come to Portland Mercado for fantastic food and the awesome events they regularly hold. I was happily in attendance for the Empanada Weekend early this year when the food carts outside the Mercado featured over a dozen varieties of empanadas plus regular menus featuring flavors from Peru, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico. I was dazzled by the options and went all in on the empanada offerings from the Puerto Rican cart El Coquí, so delicious!
In addition to fantastic food, tasty drinks ranging from fresh, healthy smoothies at XOCOTL, coffee from Sandino Coffee Shop or perhaps something a bit more fermented & adult from Barrio can all be found inside the Mercado. You can also find live music and fun cultural activities for kids inside and outside during events. This is a beloved institution of the Foster-Powell community, Latino and otherwise as expressed by one regular who Barrio owner Chris Shimamoto refers to as “the Viking” - he considers the Mercado his living room. He’s at the Mercado everyday to eat, meet up with friends and also help a friend make hummus in the commercial kitchen that’s available to rent hourly.
Fresh off celebrating their 4-year anniversary, this hub of Latino culture and business incubator in SE Portland is staying true to their mission. I got to visit with Shea Flaherty Betin who’s held the position of Director since 2017 for a few minutes to chat about the Mercado, its services and the hopes that he and the talented management team have for the future. The service arm of the Mercado offers: 1 on 1 bi-lingual business advising, ongoing language workshops, business boot camps with the basics for starting and running a business, opportunities to sell at Mercado events
Shea told me the principles behind the Mercado and their services are:
With one of their vendors graduating from the BOP’s Increase Project, the team at the Mercado is hoping more will complete the program focused on taking the skills from Boot Camp and other Mercado services to the next level for their businesses. Sometimes these steps lead away from the Mercado to a brink and mortar restaurant or a larger production facility that can supply the increased demand that’s a sign of success. When this happens it’s a victory for the Portland Mercado, giving opportunities to the next lucky entrepreneurs of an affordable space to set for up their business and incorporate their passion into the magic happening at SE 72nd and Foster!
For more info about the Portland Mercado, their services and events go to https://www.portlandmercado.org/ .