North Portland food cart reopens two weeks after massive fire

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Earlier in September, a food cart in North Portland caught fire, but the owner was determined to quickly get back to doing what he loves.

La Taqueria de Pepe Chile is now back in service after weeks of rebuilding and nearly $100,000 in fire damage.

Julio Mendoza, owner of the food cart, says it started when he took his dog Pepito for a walk, “and then boom everything happened”.

A massive explosion caused extensive fire damage to Pepe Chile’s Taqueria food cart, taking away Mendoza’s livelihood.

“I haven’t slept in almost two weeks,” Mendoza said. Friends helped him evacuate the rubble, “eight days on the road, recovering tons and tons of material that was burned”.

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

“It was really a challenge,” Mendoza said.

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to help Julio, a friend helped him start a GoFundMe which you can find here.