One of the first places in Inner Southeast where food carts were made a main-street feature – the front of The Joinery, on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard – now has a new one, featuring tasty treats and good beverages. The new "Back to Eden Bakery" food cart offers both vegan and gluten-free small cakes, cookies, mini pies, and scones. Nineteen different beverages, including macchiato, cappuccino, espresso, iced tea, iced coffee, kombucha, craft bottled soda, and lemonade are among those sold to accompany the goodies.
Brian Butterfield, an Otto's employee, bikes every day from his residence on S.E. 52nd and Flavel Street to buy coffee and a rosemary pear sausage scone, or an apple fritter scone, on his way to work.
Other distinctive treats include tomato kale savory tart, Spanish tempeh quiche, chocolate marionberry pie, apple cider doughnut, cranberry hazelnut cupcakes, and pumpkin snickerdoodle mini cakes.
Some customers arrive with a couple of children to share a pumpkin whoopee pie or carrot cream cheese cupcake. Others come in search of something for a special occasion; still others are there simply for a meal.
John Blomgren and Garrett Jones, co-owners of "Back to Eden", say they began baking in 2007 when they converted their garage into a commercial kitchen in the Cully Neighborhood. From there they transferred to a bakery storefront on Alberta Street in 2009; that dessert bar and bakery café is now a go-to spot in Northeast Portland.
In 2015 the owners expanded to a food cart at S.E. 28th Avenue and Division. In September of this year, that food cart moved to the Woodstock Boulevard location, when the food cart pod on Division closed down to make way for apartments.
"A huge part of our following is in Southeast Portland, and a lot of our customers wanted us to stay in this area. We just really like Woodstock, and are excited to be here. It feels like old Portland, and it's growing more naturally [than some parts of Portland]," says Blomgren. "The baked goods are all vegan, all gluten free. We use the highest quality ingredients, and our prices are competitive [with similar venues]."
Prices are slightly higher than some of the bigger commercial stores, but Blomgren says there are several reasons for this. Among them: Larger stores buy pallets of ingredients, bake in big batches, and often have commissary kitchens. "Back to Eden" bakes in their Alberta store and, Blomgren says, "All our products are made from scratch. And we are committed to paying our employees, now totaling forty, more than a living wage."
Even though the dessert shop/bakery café and the Woodstock food cart are relatively small-scale, Blomgren says they are also committed to giving back to the community. "We donate to countless organizations and [on some days] have given ten percent of our profits to nonprofits and disaster relief, such as to Puerto Rico."
The cart is open for business 11a.m.-7p.m. daily, with hours subject to change during the winter season. Go online – www.backtoedenbakery.com – for more details; but go to the cart for a full display of everything for sale.