A Hamburger Today
Street Food Profiles: Biscuit Bike in Portland, Oregon
What's on the menu? Vegan biscuits and gravy plus two Kombucha flavors on tap from Townshend's Tea Company, a popular local brewer. Here is the official menu:
Biscuit Bike Biscuit ($5): biscuit with soy sausage and mushroom gravy
Blue Biscuit ($5): "bacon" biscuit with blue cheeze
Nacho Biscuit ($5): jalapeno biscuit with Teese nacho cheese
Chocoliscuit ($5): biscuit with chocolate sauce
Jammin' Biscuit ($4): biscuit with jam, agave nectar, Earth Balance (the vegan margarine)
Brew Dr. Kombucha ($3): 12-ounce cup
Big Wheel Meal ($7): any biscuit with any gravy or sauce plus Kombucha
Why biscuits and tea? The idea for the bike actually started with Kombucha, when it was in short supply this summer. But I figured a beverage cart wasn't quite enough, and biscuits and gravy seemed like a natural pairing as they can both act as a great "pick-me-up."
How long have you been running Biscuit Bike? I came up with the idea in June of 2010, and Biscuit Bike's first day was at a local street fair in early September. Since then, we've made appearances at another street fair, an art show, and local spots in my neighborhood.
How does Twitter affect your business? It's been a big part of getting the word out—it didn't take much time for the followers to grow from just a handful. Twitter also makes it easy to let people know about events, new menu items, and special offers.
How is Biscuit Bike related to Black Sheep Bakery? Once I had the idea, I looked into commercial kitchen rentals to bake the biscuits. But after costing everything out, as a comparison I reached out to Black Sheep Bakery about getting their biscuits wholesale. The difference was close enough where it just made sense to work with them—they now provide nearly everything on the menu. Black Sheep Bakery is well-known in Portland for their vegan baked goods. They've been great to work with, especially in brainstorming menu items beyond the standard biscuits and gravy.
What is your background? I have some restaurant and catering experience, but my main field is marketing.
What is special or different about Biscuit Bike in Portland's eclectic and extensive street food scene? Biscuit Bike combines many very Portland elements: food carts, bicycles, vegan food, and Kombucha. And while there's a small but growing number of bicycle food carts in Portland, Biscuit Bike is unique in its ability to provide both hot food and cold beverages on tap. Also, we accept credit cards via an iPhone app and card swiper—that's something I've always wanted to see more food carts offer.
What are some of your other favorite street food vendors in Portland? Violetta's Rolling Etta, Crème de la Crème, Potato Champion, Pyro Pizza, Namu Killer BBQ, and Off The Griddle.
Is it hard to ride your bike uphill? It can definitely be a challenge, especially when the Kombucha kegs and the propane tank are full! But I've been looking into options for an electric motor to increase my mobile capabilities.
What's your favorite item on the menu? I'm quite partial to the Blue Biscuit, a biscuit filled with "bacon" bits and topped with blue cheese.
Any advice for would-be street food vendors? If you have an idea and want to make it happen, get out there and talk to local cart owners. I picked up useful tips from just about every cart owner I talked to.
What's next for Biscuit Bike? We're mainly going to focus on events for now, but I'm evaluating all the options in terms when and where Biscuit Bike can appear.