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Fairview Food Plaza, Sunday farmers market open in shadow of record-setting big fork

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Fairview Food Plaza, and many of its food carts, opened Sunday, May 22.The showstopper in Fairview is the giant — as in world's tallest — fork.

At the corner of Northeast Halsey Street and 223rd Avenue, the 37-foot stainless steel cutlery draws the eye and the crowds. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, they flocked to the fork for photos and laughter. But then they stayed for the delicious food — kebabs, Thai, Scandinavian, Mexican, birrias, boba, Korean, Hawaiian, smash burgers, beer, cider and more.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Fairview Food Plaza will continue to have more things open in the coming weeks — including the indoor seating area and additional carts. After months of planning and delays, the Fairview Food Plaza had a soft opening Sunday, May 22, on a festive day that coincided with the return of the Fairview Sunday Market at the same location.

The food carts station, 22320 N.E. Halsey St., in the shadow of the fork, is the new community hangout in Fairview. With ample outdoor seating, more than a dozen food carts, and live music and events, there is no better place to be in East Multnomah County.

"This is exciting, I love when a plan comes together," Mayor Brian Cooper said. "This was exactly our vision for this place — the community gathering to listen to music, connect and eat good food."

"This is a place to sit and meet your neighbors."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Justin Hwang, who is operating the Fairview Food Plaza, was working the taps during the soft opening.  The food cart pod, which is still working out some early kinks, eventually will feature 16 food carts, an enclosed eating hall with bar and bathrooms, play area and central plaza, free Wi-Fi, and ample onsite parking.

"We didn't know how popular this would be on opening day, but so many people came out," said restaurateur Justin Hwang, who is helming the site.

"Our vendors are all from East Multnomah County, so they came with their own following and fans," he added. "We wanted to celebrate the food and people in this community."

From the beginning, the refrain has been that the Fairview Food Plaza is about more than eating. The vision was for a community center, and the return of the market furthers those goals.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Fairview Sunday Market has returned to the community thanks to a new home at the Food Plaza.  The Fairview Farmers Market has lain dormant for nearly half a decade. In the past it could never establish a foothold in the city, bouncing from one location to another and being overshadowed by other markets in the region.

But now with the food plaza, there is a central location where the market will return to each weekend.

"Now the farmers market has a home," Cooper said.

The Fairview Sunday Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sundays into September at the Fairview Food Plaza. Right now there are about 40 vendors who set up, though there already is talk about future expansions. While it might not be for a few years, eventually city officials envision shutting down Northeast Arata Road, which is adjacent to the food carts, and letting the market spread down the roadway.

"We want to rival the other markets in the region and have Fairview be the place to visit," Cooper said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Fairview Sunday Market has flowers, jewelry, handcrafted goods, produce and more. And those lofty ideas also include the food cart plaza. There will be an official grand opening near the end of June, when the rest of the carts will have cleared the red tape. Hwang also has talked about hosting a bevy of events — cultural dances, nightly musical performances, watch parties for sports events like World Cup soccer this summer, karaoke and trivia, and even a three-on-three community basketball tournament.

"All of this is the first step for Fairview," Cooper said. "Council is going to keep creating these places and events for community."


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