By Merlin Douglass

Beaverton is set to welcome yet another hugely popular food cart at the new Breakside Brewery beer garden and cart pod at 1st and Angel, proving once again how flexibility and the willingness to go all in on a dream can produce amazing results.

When Jeff Larson lost his restaurant job early on in the pandemic he wasn’t too worried. It was only going to be a month after all.  But, by the end of six weeks, he could see COVID wasn’t going away and he would have to find ways to adapt.

In a whirlwind of optimistic fervor, he and his partner, Schuyler Wallace, rented a food cart, leased a space in Northeast Portland and in 5 or 6 weeks, he says, the cart was up and running.  He’s always wanted to be his own boss and having worked in restaurants,he says, he had a few ideas of his own about how to make that work. 

Rather than narrowing his opportunities, the practical realities of keeping diners safe in a pandemic favored the food cart. “It seemed like this was becoming the thing,” Larson says, people started eating outdoors and soon outdoor seating became more available.  “The outdoors became kind of a public gathering place,” he says, “It was nice to see. People need those spaces.”

The cart business model offered other advantages as well.  For instance, there is safety in numbers. “Having some carts in a pod means that everybody gets to share when it’s busy,” he says, “You’ll see groups come and you’ll see they grab something from us, something from 2 or 3 of our neighbors and then they all get together to eat it, split it, share it.”

He joined a new emerging cart pod in Northwest Portland and, as the pod became a fixture in its neighborhood and then to the wider Portland culinary audience, so too did the following for the offerings of the Farmer and the Beast.

Larson, who is originally from California, says the best thing about making food in this area is how close you are to the actual farm your food comes from.  “In California there are no farms near metro areas.  They are all out in the valley,” he says, “In Portland if you drive 10 minutes out there’s a farm.”

And the food has caught on.  The menu runs the healthy gamut.  “We serve burgers, decadent sandwiches and indulgences on one hand and then the other hand is more vegetable, health focused with a table grain bowl” Larson says, “ Farmer and the beast kind of being the two sides of that coin.  We wanted to create a place where people could go either way.”