by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Say goodbye to the sleek silver airstream as Spork, one of Bend’s most iconic mobile street-food kitchens is abandoning its vagabond ways and planting roots at a permanent indoor location this Spring.
The big lease news broke late last month and co-owners Erica Reilly, Jeff Hunt, Chris Lohrey and the entire Spork crew are excited to settle into their brand new 1,700-square-foot home in the old Fox’s Billiard Lounge building on Newport Avenue in Bend.
A target date for the relocation is May 1 and the green routine of amazing global gourmet food served fast will live on at 937 NW Newport Avenue right beside Cuppa Yo.
“The Spork staff wants to deliver a huge thank you to all the people who came out of the woodwork to get the funding together to make this venture possible,” said Reilly. “It will be an expansion of exactly what we’ve been doing for years… counter service, fast casual, and of course the name will stay the same.”
The new Newport Avenue dining spot will feature many fan favorites plus some new eclectic dishes.
“Meals and shared plates and small plates … globally-inspired cuisine … It’ll all be available at affordable prices, with beer and wine and limited specialty cocktails, with a nice patio out front.”
And don’t be too sad, the iconic Airstream trailer that started it all will still be available for summer festivals and seasonal events.
“Our new place will be a walk-up service with a similar price point and expanded menu format from the trailer,” said Operations Manager Chris Lohrey. “We’re really excited to have the indoor space and have year-round operations with some tables set up outside. It’s just a bigger, better situation.”
Spork’s retrofitted 1962 Airstream Tradewind food wagon has been a familiar sight in recent years, gleaming on city street corners, parked at fall fairs, music concerts and various fundraising festivities all over Central Oregon.
Spork features the tantalizing foods of Executive Chef Jeff Hunt, who aims to deliver exciting and inspired eats at fair daily prices with a green sensibility. That includes sourcing ingredients locally, using organic veggies and humanely raised meats and stocking their shelves and tables with green materials from serving ware to cleaning supplies.
“We use Coast Range Organics or Draper Valley NW natural chicken and Carlton Farms natural Oregon pork,” said Reilly. “And beef from Redmond Smokehouse, organic Happy Tofu out of Portland and fresh produce from Paradise Produce, local farms and a network of regional distributors, organic where possible.
“We generally use only rice bran, grape-seed, peanut and olive oil. All our serving products are biodegradable, compostable, unbleached and made from renewable plant sources like sugarcane, bamboo bagasse and potato starch and we use only natural biodegradable cleaning products.”
With the crazy and unpredictable restaurant-go-round cycle in Bend limiting dining options, it’s comforting to see an innovative local institution evolve and expand to serve its loyal food family.
“And thank you all for supporting Spork these years, because you too are the reason this is all happening,” said Reilly. “We’ll be keeping the trailer to do events, catering, weddings, but won’t be running it on a daily basis. If you have any wishes or suggestions on what you’d like to see happening at the new spot be sure to let us know. It’s amazing. Couldn’t have done it without you!”