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Southern Twain BBQ will close at the end of September 2021 as the Hermiston Food Pod undergoes renovations.

The Hermiston Food Pod will close temporarily starting Sept. 30, but it will return after about a month, bigger and better than ever, according to Clinton Spencer, planning director for the city of Hermiston.

The Food Pod is a group of mobile food vendors on Orchard Avenue in Hermiston, near McKenzie Park and the U.S. Post Office.

Spencer said the closure “will allow the city’s contractor to go in and upgrade the utility infrastructure.”

He explained there is one point of power connection and one water connection. All the users at the pod have to share this one connection right now, but the upgrades will create eight permanent water, sewer and electric connection points.

This will allow for as many as eight vendors to each have their own utility point and dispose of wastewater on site, Spenser said.

“Adding this infrastructure will help attract more vendors,” Spencer said. “We have seen a lot of interest in locating in the pod, but the lack of individual water connections, and especially the lack of wastewater facilities, keeps a lot of vendors from committing to the site.”

Other improvements include more parking and fencing around the perimeter of the site, though the fencing may be installed later, possibly waiting until 2022.

Patrick Hunt, who has been involved with the food pod for three years, has been the site’s manager and overseer for the past two years. He also operates Southern Twain BBQ.

It has been “such a long way from our first day on site, three years ago,” he said. And he is excited about updates, which will bring internet, as well as more connections — for power, sewer and water.

He foresees eight to 10 new vendors, more than filling the pod, even with the upgrades. They are as follows: Southern Twain BBQ, Maguis Raspados, Bella Blu, Tacos Garcia, Philippine/Filipino, Rolled Ice Cream, Deli Sandwiches and Hispanic Hotdogs & Smoothies. There also will be smaller trailers or tents, and temporary daily use vendors.

Hunt said new power receptacles throughout the property will make musical performances possible, as small bands will be able to plug in their equipment.

Excited about these new developments, he said he will close Southern Twain BBQ for the duration of the pod’s closure. He said he intends to spend time with his family, as well as deep clean and remodel his truck. He also will develop new food offerings.

He thanked the community, which has shown him a lot of support. High school students, in particular, he said, have been good customers.

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