North Portland food cart reopens two weeks after massive fire

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 10:01 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Earlier in September, a food cart in North Portland burst into flames, but the owner was determined to quickly get back to doing what he loves.

Pepe Chile’s Taqueria is now back in service after weeks of building back, and nearly $100,000 in fire damage.

RELATED: Fire destroys one food cart, damages two others in N. Portland

Julio Mendoza, who owns the food cart says it began when he took his dog Pepito for a walk, “and then boom everything happened.” A massive blast caused extensive fire damage to the Pepe Chile’s Taqueria food cart, taking away Mendoza’s livelihood.

“I haven’t slept for almost two weeks,” Mendoza said. Friends helped him move away the rubble, “eight days in the road, getting tons and tons of materials that were burned.”

He moved a food cart he already had back to the location of the initial one.

“This has been really a challenge,” Mendoza said.

A challenge his friend, Daniel Maloney, or what he refers to Mendoza as, “an amigo – yeah, he’s an amigo,” knew he could face. “He’s such a hard worker that I’m sure when the dust settled or the smoke cleared, that he was right at it.”

The cart has been open for a few days, which means Mendoza is back doing what he loves. However, even though the flames were put out weeks ago, they continue to spread in different ways.

“I’m behind in everything,” Mendoza said frustrated. “My lawyer, my taxes – they are maddening. There’s so much I need help with.”

It’s nothing he says himself and Pepito can’t handle, “I love cooking.”

That’s what he’ll keep doing what he does, for the people he serves and the conversations he says he loves.

If you’d like to help Julio, he has had a friend help him start a GoFundMe that you can find here.