Cross the tasty variety of today’s food truck lots with the indoor conveniences of the mall food courts of bygone days — without the trucks, or the fast-food chains — and you have a "food hall," which a Bend businessman hopes to bring to an historic, now-vacant downtown spot.
Oregon Street Marketplace is the idea of Bendistillery founder Jim Bendis. A sign posted recently outside the O’Kane Building on Oregon Avenue said he’s seeking “the best and most diversified cuisine and libations in Central Oregon.”
Bendis said he was trying to find a brick-and-mortar location for his Ablis CBD beverages business, but could not find any available spot in the area. That led to this plan, to feature a variety of local food vendors in an indoor spot.
"It isn't bringing the chains in, it's the local, local, local,” he said Thursday. “Keep it artisanal, keep it mixed — you know, if we have a sushi place, and a Mediterranean place, dessert and bakeries and barbecue and a pizza, keeping it diverse, keeping it local and keeping it artisanal, and just keeping it great."
That sign on the door said Bendis is seeking “experienced culinary entrepreneurs looking to share their food artistry without cost and complications of owning an entire restaurant. You own your business and lease your space.”
It’s far from a done deal, however. He’s still working to gather public input, partner with prospective vendors and get city permits. So there’s no timetable yet, but Bendis is enthused about the idea.