Private Sector Mobilization for COVID-19

Asian-American &

Black-owned Restaurants

Seating Project

Timeline: July 2020 - March 2021

Project Context

On May 28th 2020, in response to COVID-19, the Portland Bureau of Transportation released a free permit for businesses through their Healthy Business Program. This permit has allowed for businesses to extend seating, retail space, etc., into the public right-of-way. 


Amidst bureaucratic politics and a stark lack of public funding for equity for this program, our partnerships mobilized the private sector and neighboring restaurant community to prioritize business owners and locations that have long lacked traditional investment.


We All Rise has partnered with Andersen Construction Foundation and ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria in Portland to build, loan, and deliver critical seating units to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned restaurants who cannot afford to expand seating to outdoor operations in accordance with social distancing measures.

This program has been a lifeline for multiple independent restaurants, and has reduced the barriers faced by struggling businesses to utilize the city's outdoor seating permits provided by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Nearly 30 seating units have been delivered to Black and Asian-American owned restaurants and food carts, reaching across four urban districts. Hundreds of meals have been served, keeping open a critical sector of our local economy during the summer of 2020.


Importantly, this project has established supply channels between private stakeholders to swiftly mobilize necessary equipment to underserved businesses in times of crises.

Project Details & Best Practices

To design and construct seating for this program, Andersen Construction Foundation created a well-loved team-building opportunity for employees to social distance with each other while building the units. This stage of the project became a meaningful experience for many employees who were been previously unable to come into Andersen's building sites due to COVID-19.

When PBOT's permit program discontinues, each seating unit will be painted and inaugurated into public space as a community placemaking initiative. We All Rise will partner directly with artists from underrepresented community members and heroes of the pandemic, including essential workers, trash collectors, teachers, youth, and health care workers. This element of the seating project offers a unique lens to community placemaking in response to pandemic inequities. 

¿Por Qué No? Taqueria graciously loaned their unused seating to multiple restaurants around the city, which will be returned to their home location after PBOT's permit program discontinues.