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May 29th, 2019

Feelin' nostalgic. Feelin' nostalgic 'bout Big-Ass Sandwiches.

A food cart from December 2009 to summer 2015. Two food carts for a brief time during that. A brick-and-mortar restaurant from June 2015 to May 2016. By Brian and Lisa Wood, partners in love and food who wanted to feed people and did like whoa.

I got to every single location the cart then later the restaurant was at. I first went on the original cart's second day of operation in 2009. I was at the restaurant on both its second-to-last day and its last day, sharing whiskey after the close with the staff.

(I mention two food carts. While Brian and Lisa were at their second location in Central Industrial Eastside Portland, between Produce Row Café to the south and the Burnside skate park to the north, they bought a second cart and installed it at the N. Mississippi Ave. food cart pod next to the bar Prost. Frustratingly, this turned out to be a bad location for them: they'd get a surprising number of people who'd walk up and ask, "Do you have vegan salads?" WHAT PART OF "BIG-ASS SANDWICHES" IMPLIES VEGAN? Though they did have vegetarian-friendly sandwiches, then later, at the restaurant, salads. Still. Read the menu and read the room, people.)

For four shifts during Rose Festival 2012, when the cart was still in Old Town near Voodoo Doughnut, I worked the cart's front window. I had (and have) no permission to cook in food carts; I was taking orders and money, while the people who knew food cooked and assembled them behind me. On my last shift, I worked the cart's late night shift. THAT was an experience.

People evangelized about the cart. Some people made special trips to visit it. (This happened sometimes with the restaurant, too.) Brian and Lisa got nationwide cable coverage. Summer 2011 was slammed at the cart because of one cable show. They met famous people, becoming friends with some of them. They helped many people bond over damn good sandwiches. To this day, some of their sandwiches are the best sandwiches I've ever eaten. I miss those sandwiches. I also miss Lisa and Brian, but at least I can reach them.

This is an excuse to reshare the commercial Lisa and Brian shot in Old Town in summer 2010, featuring me. That location is now a building under construction. Things change. People change. Hairstyles change. Interest rates fluctuate. But, for a time, this place and its sandwiches were out there, getting to people and making them happily full.

Thank you, Brian and Lisa.