Holy trinity

Portland’s barbecue destination, Holy Trinity, closes this month

Kyle Rensmeyer wasn’t a household name in the barbecue scene when he opened Holy Trinity in 2019. The Dallas native had moved to Portland in 2014 with no professional cooking experience, but he had one goal: to bring a true Texas-style barbecue in Portland. He started with a pop-up concept, Q PDX, selling barbecues through Instagram. In the spring of 2019, the Holy Trinity Food Cart opened on Southeastern Powell in largely abandoned land. It was named after the three staples Rensmeyer would always sell: smoked and spicy sausages; fine ribs with pink hues; and an incredible 14 hour smoked brisket. Joined by side dishes and special dishes, the holy trinity of meat quickly made the food cart a Portland hotspot. Holy Trinity landed on Eater Portland’s essential eatery list shortly after her first birthday, and Texas monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn called the cart “one of many impressive barbecue operations in a city that may have the best Texan-style programming in the country outside of Lone Star State.” Unfortunately, after two and a half years, Rensmeyer will serve his last breast on Saturday, October 23.

Rensmeyer posted the news on Instagram Wednesday night, writing that if it wasn’t the week of the 23rd, it would be the following week, or the week after. He explained that it only took two weeks of poor sales to weaken the business to the point where it couldn’t reasonably get through the winter. “There is no foreseeable future where we will spend the winter,” he wrote.

COVID-19 – and the safety precautions state and local governments have in place to deal with it – has hit food carts differently than brick and mortar. Some flexibility, a lack of reliance on dining rooms, pre-existing take-out programs, and (often) lower rents generally meant food carts were more adaptable – at least in 2020. 2021 saw winter freezing storms that shut down restaurants across the city, and the devastating summer heatwave was particularly destructive to forklifts, shattering equipment and endangering the lives of workers. Break-ins and break-ins have become almost regular news. And carts like Holy Trinity – which rely primarily on meat sales – have faced meat shortages and rising prices since the start of the pandemic. Rensmeyer maintained transparency on his social media about the need to raise prices, but that was too much. “It became evident that our location, coupled with the increased costs on our side, caused our demise,” the post explains. Rensmeyer declined to comment beyond the Instagram statement.

Diners will have until October 23 to stop, support the cart and taste some of its incredible smoked meats. And in his post, Rensmeyer asked people to support their favorite carts and restaurants as well. “If you like a business, go support them to the highest point,” he wrote. “And tell your friends. It makes a difference. Maybe the difference between you eating their food again and the last time.

Holy Trinity [Official]
Holy Trinity [Instagram]