Getting to Know Your Neighbors

Q&A with YogaChefJess 

On a recent sunny autumn Friday, Leslie and I walked through our favorite food cart pod—The Bite on Belmont at 43rd and Belmont—to find that a new restaurant had arrived: YogaChefJess.

The food cart A-frame showed a variety of delicious-sounding meals. We became more excited the longer we reviewed the menu. The ingredients and creations sounded mouthwatering and—to Leslie’s delight—everything was plant-based.

Leslie and I, along with my parents—who joined us on the outing—ordered about half the menu which rotates weekly. After the first couple bites, we were sold. And I thought to myself, Sunnysiders have got to know about YogaChefJess.

I recently visited with Jess at her food cart, ordered the Potato Cakes (mashed tater cakes topped with bacon-jam, cilantro crema, cilantro and chez), and asked her some questions while I made my way through the delectable lunch she had just cooked up for me.

Jess, who lives in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, is a deeply passionate professional chef and yoga instructor. Her mission for over 16 years has been to help people create healthy habits through quality eating and meditation.

In addition to her cart at The Bite on Belmont, YogaChefJess provides meal subscriptions, nutrition consulting, yoga and fitness instruction, cooking demos, and other holistic services. (Check out her website at Her meal subscriptions include lunches and dinners that are premade, plant-based, and free from gluten, soy, and refined sugar.

Alrighty, YogaChefJess. How long have you lived in Portland?

Jess: I’ve lived here for six years. I’m from North Carolina. I noticed that Portland was more catered to my lifestyle as a yoga instructor and plant-based foodie. 

Had you visited Portland before moving here?

Jess: No, I didn’t visit. My cousin lived out here, needed a nanny, and asked if I wanted to be a nanny for them. I thought, “Okay, but if I go out there, I’m probably not going to come back.” So I just sold everything and moved out here. Then a year later my cousin moved away! But I love it here.

You had a catering business before this. What led you to opening this physical restaurant? 

Jess: I do still have a catering business. I just needed more space. Even though this is still a small space, it’s a little more space than what I’m used to to create my meals and stuff. We built a kitchen for my business, and now we have this too.

How long have you been open? We noticed that you took the spot of Dinger’s Deli which we used to frequent. 

Jess: This is only my fourth week! So I’m really good friends with Brian, founder and owner of Dinger’s. He was like, “I want you to be here. I love what you do. I’m burning out. They need really good food and you’re the best replacement for me.”

What do you love about having your cart in Sunnyside?  

It’s alive. I really like the location here and the neighborhoods. I love how people are often walking by. There’s enough going on this side of the street [north side of Belmont] that people are passing by, walking their dogs and stuff.

Okay, so one month in, how does it feel?

Jess: It feels pretty good. Jumping into anything is a roller coaster. But it has been a good roller coaster. You know, I didn’t fall out of the ride. Nothing fell off. The wheels are still attached. We’re slowly going up. We’re in a hole, but we’re not sinking in the hole (laughs). I do have a couple of people that come and help me, but it’s mostly me.

What’s one fun fact about Yoga Chef Jess?

Jess: I did my yoga teacher training in Thailand. It’s a 500 hour certification. While the first was in Thailand, my second yoga teacher training was here in Portland. I’ve learned various styles such as Hatha, Bikram, Integral, Astana, Anusara.

* Go visit the restaurant YogaChefJess at 4255 SE Belmont Street or sign up for a meal plan and more at

Neighbors and Transit Riders Work to Get Fred Meyer’s Hawthorne Pedestrian Entrance Re-opened

The Fred Meyer grocery has been an anchor on our vibrant Hawthorne Boulevard for over 70 years with a main entrance opening onto the street. But in the last 6 months the Fred Meyer Hawthorne grocery, owned by Kroger, has closed or restricted the use of its only entrance onto Hawthorne Boulevard.

As a “Transit Street Main Entrance”, these doors are required to be open onto the sidewalk (for entry and exiting) by Portland’s Zoning Code to “promote walking and the use of transit.”  The closure is burdensome for all users, but is especially inequitable and concerning for seniors and disabled people. The only entrance is now on the opposite side of the building–through the parking lot. In addition, this closed entrance has created a “zombie block” which significantly reduces foot traffic and has a negative effect on the vitality of the Hawthorne shopping district.

The city has notified Fred Meyer that this closure is a violation of city code and started fining them $700 a month since May. After the notice of violation, Fred Meyer submitted an application to permanently close the Hawthorne pedestrian entrance.

Inner Southeast Action (ISEA), a local community group focusing on land use, transportation, climate and equity, along with Oregon Walks, a state-wide pedestrian safety group, met with Fred Meyer local and corporate management about alternative solutions. One suggestion was to post a security guard at the entrance, but Fred Meyer insisted closure is necessary to stop theft and for “safety concerns”.  It is interesting to note that both the New Seasons and Safeway grocery stores have managed to keep multiple entrances open onto the Hawthorne sidewalk.

ISEA and Oregon Walks have launched an awareness and advocacy effort to persuade the city to deny Fred Meyer’s application to permanently close the pedestrian entrance and to persuade Fred Meyer to fully re-open this entrance. The groups have launched a petition to get the doors reopened. The petition has over 425 signers so far, and will be sent to the Mayor, Commissioner Ryan and the Director of Bureau of Development Services. You can add your name to it here:

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association will discuss the situation and a possible neighborhood response at their next meeting on October 14th.

Emergency Preparedness and the SNA Board Meeting

Emergency Preparedness for all Sunnysiders?    ?

Is there a ‘one size fits all’ for emergency preparedness? No, there is not. However, the advice remains the same–getting prepared is much much better than doing nothing and hoping that an earthquake won’t happen anytime soon. Hmmm….

There are multiple ways to make preparedness more appealing. In my mind, it is the ways that each of us can help to build neighborhood resilience
and a sense of place in Sunnyside that will result in all of us getting to
know each other better. And to help each other get ready…

Questions, comments? Weigh in please via email to [email protected] and thank you.

Emergency Preparedness and the SNA Board Meeting

How can Sunnysiders be prepared, not scared?

Each neighborhood in Portland has their unique challenges with regards to preparing for an emergency. This depends on the geography, the business communities and the willingness of neighbors to know each other and support each other BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an event.

How do you know where to begin?

A comprehensive resource guide is available on the Sunnyside Prepared!

Take a peek at the Sunnyside Neighborhood Map – an excellent overview of Sunnyside. Print a copy and walk around the neighborhood. Become familiar with the map legend. Though there might be new construction since this map was made, it will help you see how Neighborhood Emergency Team members size up the hazards, etc. in Sunnyside. All of the other resources on this page are updated and user friendly.

Want a bigger overview?

Go to the FEMA (Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency) website: and click on the top toolbar item “Prepare for Disasters.”

Not a computer person?

Now that the Belmont library has reopened, librarians can easily point you to books and other resources that can help, or you can print out pages from the Sunnyside Prepared! or FEMA websites. These resources will help you get prepared, not scared.

Recycling Event

Save your hard-to-recycle items! New Seasons Market, Ridwell, James Recycling, and Recycling Advocates are sponsoring a one-day recycling event where you can bring items you can’t normally put in the good ol’ recycling bin at home.

Revolution Hall parking lot SE Portland
Saturday, September 11th, 10am – 12:30pm