Having to make the transition from owning and running a popular restaurant and blues club to owing a food cart may seem like an easy thing. A lot less to do, right? Far from it. In a restaurant, you have staff who help you bear the load. In a food cart, not so much. Dave MacKay of The Original Halibut’s discovered this when he lost the lease on his restaurant space.

Original halibut’s food cart

The advantage of The Original Halibut’s food cart for fans of great food is that now Dave is doing the cooking. In the restaurant the top-shelf chefs prepared food to Dave’s standards. At the cart, Dave is the one preparing the food. His attention to quality, consistency and an exceptional customer experience have made The Original Halibut’s a destination in just a few short months.

The VW Microbus owned by Dave Mackay the proprietor of the Original halibut’s food cart

The Original Halibut’s is located at the Piedmont Station food cart pod on NE Killingsworth at NE 7th Avenue just two blocks east of NE Martin Luther King Blvd. This NE location was chosen so that the fans of the Original Halibut’s restaurant wouldn’t have to go too far to find the new location. Keeping things in the local neighborhood and serving the community is important to Dave.

Sockeye salmon, halibut, prawns, fries and the cocktail sauce from The Original Halibuts food cart

The Original Halibut’s restaurant was also well known as a music venue for the best blues acts from the Northwest and across the nation. Dave has kept his connection with the music community even after the restaurant closed. And because of that connection Dave is able to provide an amazing community service.

Each year in August the best of the blues are brought to the campus of Concordia University in NE Portland for the annual Campus Blues Fest. The event is also a way for Dave and the blues community to honor two great ladies of the blues, Janice Scroggins and Linda Hornbuckle. Dave will be there with his food cart assuring the fans not only get great music but great food as well.

The shrimp cocktail and the cocktail sauce from The Original Halibuts food cart

With a name like Original Halibut’s you’d think that halibut would be the main item on the menu. Yes, halibut is on the menu but shares the culinary spotlight with some equally delicious items. Schooling with the halibut you’ll find wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon, blue marlin, catfish, sturgeon, oysters, and prawns, just to name a few.

No seafood restaurant would be complete without a clam chowder on the menu. The clam chowder at Original Halibut’s required four years of effort on Dave’s part to become the crème de la crème of clam chowder. As Dave puts it; he wants the chowder to be “the best of the best of the best,” like you’d make it if “your parents were coming over” and you don’t want to mess that up.

More of the wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon, halibut, prawns and the cocktail sauce from The Original Halibuts food cart

Dave’s dedication to quality food is probably best found in his french fries. That’s right, what for most is a basic side dish has been elevated to the status of front-line representative for the commitment to excellence that is the hallmark of Original Halibut’s. As Dave says; “I’m really picky about my fries.”

The Original Halibut’s is open 11:30 AM till 9:30 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Again, they’re serving from the Piedmont station food cart pod which is located at 625 NE Killingsworth St.

The blue marlin, french fries, tartar sauce, and the cocktail sauce from The Original Halibuts food cart

Listen now as Steven Shomler and Ken Wilson talk with Dave MacKay of The Original Halibut’s food cart about quality, operating a seafood joint with a small staff, and blues music.