Midtown Beer Garden Image credit 15 Aug 2023 by Matt Allen (c) Expensify Inc Expensify, the financial management and expenses vendor, has invested in a new venture seemingly unrelated to its core business. However, from a CSR perspective, this is an innovative initiative that other firms might note. Expensify has announced the grand re-opening of the Midtown Beer Garden, an outdoor venue close to the Expensify headquarters.

Portland has been the 6th fastest-shrinking big city in America since 2020. According to Oregon Live, it lost 2.8% of its population between July 2020 and July 2022. In an initiative that both employees and other residents of Portland can benefit from, Expensify has partnered with local restaurant group ChefStable to relaunch the 300-seat venue that will house 25 food carts and become an entertainment venue.

David Barrett, founder and CEO of Expensify
David Barrett, founder and CEO of Expensify

David Barrett, founder and CEO of Expensify, announced, “We want to bring back the liveliness and vibrancy of our neighborhood that was lost somewhere along the way during the pandemic. All of us at Expensify are huge fans of the food cart culture here, and it was such a shame to see its slow decline over the past few years.

“This revamped experience will remind everyone that the heart of our city still beats strong, and hopefully stoke a renaissance for surrounding businesses as well.”

The venue is still looking for more food carts and is offering a $1,000 cash bonus to anyone who refers a food cart that signs a one-year lease, and pays their first month’s rent. All new carts will receive their first month’s rent for free if they open on the day the pod is opened. Some caveats apply.

The venue is wheelchair accessible and contains a stage for live music, hundreds of plants and other fresh greenery with bathrooms, 24/7 security and ample parking with TriMet close by on SW 5th & Oak. The venue is also open all year with heaters and tents to provide shelter during inclement weather. With the forecast set for 28 degrees on Sunday, it should be a pleasant day.

Launch party on August 20th

The grand opening launch party will be held on August 20th between 3 pm and 8 pm. Hip artist, and Portland native, The Last Artful, Dodgr, will make her first Portland appearance at the grand opening party since her massive send-off show at Roseland Theater in 2019. The Shivas and Boka Marimba, Portland’s original African-style marimba band, will also perform.

Expensify is also offering first responders that sign up for its app free food when on duty. The offer includes anyone from police, fire, ambulance services, and Downtown Portland Clean & Safe. They will be reimbursed through the app.

Vendors are excited by the return of the oldest food cart venue in the city. Jesse Green of Iron Strike Smashburgers commented, “Midtown Beer Garden makes us feel back at home again in our community. We’re super excited to see some familiar faces and sling a ton of handcrafted burgers to new friends and neighbors. The upgrade to this location fills a real void in the neighborhood, and we’re more than ready to serve anyone craving one-of-a-kind Portland cuisine in a family-friendly atmosphere.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Community engagement is one of the key pillars of corporate social responsibility. This is an intriguing partnership that benefits both the community that Expensify operates in and also delivers a benefit to its employees that work nearby.

Expensify has not revealed whether or how much it has invested in the venue and launch. It will hope that the revamp of the area will be sustainable post covid, during which it suffered from vandalism and accidents.

Barrett explained in a BridgeTownBites article, “The Expensify global headquarters are right next door to the food truck pod on 5th and Harvey Milk, and we go there every day. It wasn’t doing great before COVID, and the quarantine sure didn’t help. Then, on top of everything, a cart blew up in the middle of the night, wiping out many of the few carts remaining, knocking out windows for a block around. It’s had a long string of bad luck, and we’re going to work with the rest of Midtown to turn that around.”


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